In many religions, April is a month of celebration, a time when families and friends join together to eat, pray and give thanks.

Wednesday marked the first day of Passover. Easter is coming up on Sunday. Ramadan begins later this month.

But as the state clampdown on COVID-19 continues with a stronger-than-ever emphasis on social distancing, Gov. Phil Murphy is reminding all Garden State residents they must forgo the festivities to slow down the spread of the disease, which has killed more than a thousand residents.

“It brings me no joy in saying that during Passover, Easter, Ramadan or any other moment, but that is the only way out of this we have got to stay home," Murphy said Wednesday. "My job No. 1 is the safety and security of the 9 million folks who call this state their home.”

Murphy said he understands that many traditions call for joining together to mark solemn holidays but with the current state of emergency we are facing, “we cannot gather together, there cannot be large community Seders or gatherings either, by the way, indoors or outdoors.”

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

“We will have to get creative to come together virtually so that we can gather together again someday soon in person.”

Murphy stressed all New Jerseyans must be vigilant and strict in this effort.

“Don’t let the warm weather or the holidays fool us: We are in the fight of our lives and we remain in the fight of our lives," he said.

Murphy also noted when infection rates begin to drop, “please don’t get upset about this but we cannot think that we’re going to be able to get back to normal all at once. It is going to take time to re-open our state and indeed our country in a systematic and careful way to protect against a boomerang of coronavirus.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com