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NJ Begins Reopening as Public Health Metrics Improve

Gov. Phil Murphy said at today’s state press conference that via an executive order, non-essential construction projects can resume Monday, May 18, at 6 a.m., and also that non-essential retail stores will be permitted to offer curbside pickup to customers who place orders in advance.

And while in-person gatherings remain banned, gatherings of vehicles for religious services or drive-in movies, for example, are permitted effective immediately (Wednesday, May 13) – although drivers must adhere to a host of mandated precautions. In fact, all three overall easing of restrictions are associated with rules and regulations; construction sites, among other guidelines, must require the use of face coverings, prohibit non-essential visitors, stagger work hours and breaks, ensure appropriate sanitation, and clearly post all of these rules.

A complete copy of Executive Order No. 142 – with more details and conditions for construction sites, retail stores and drivers – can be found here.

Of retail stores, Murphy said at the press conference, “To be clear, no customers will be allowed back into nonessential retail stores at this time. They will have to continue placing orders in advance.”

The State said via a statement:

  • “In-store operations should be limited to those employees who are responsible for the operations required for curbside pickup;
  • “Customer transactions should be handled in advance by phone, email, facsimile or other means that avoid person-to-person contact;
  • “Customers shall notify the retailer by text message, email, or phone once they arrive, or make best efforts to schedule their arrival time in advance.  The customer should be asked to remain in their vehicle, if arriving by car, until store staff delivers the purchase;
  • “Designated employees should bring goods outside of the retail establishment and place goods directly in a customer’s vehicle when possible, avoiding person-to-person contact; and
  • “Such businesses must follow social distancing and mitigation practices outlined in previous orders, including requiring workers to wear cloth face coverings when in contact with other workers or customers and gloves when in contact with goods or customers.”

Reopening and Public Health Data

Referring to the partial reopening, Murphy said at the press conference, “We were able to take these steps today because the work you have done over the past eight weeks has created these conditions that make these steps possible. Millions of you – literally – have taken social distancing to heart, and made it part of your daily routines.” He added that later this week, he expects to make an announcement regarding restarting elective medical procedures.

Associated public health data includes the fact that new and total hospitalizations statewide are down two-thirds from an April peak, and that the numbers of ICU patients and those on ventilators have likewise significantly decreased, as have positive COVID-19 cases, in general.

Murphy said, “And we can increase our stride because we are confident that the expanded and accessible testing program we outlined yesterday, as well as the robust contacting tracing program we are implementing, will help us [proactively] catch and contain future cases of COVID-19, and prevent – please, God – a second mass outbreak.”

Separately, the state announced 1,028 positive COVID-19 test results overnight, for a statewide cumulative total of 141,560 cases. There are now 4,226 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and those in intensive care have fallen to 1,226; just 928 patients are on ventilators.

And while 364 new patients were admitted to hospitals statewide yesterday, 382 patients were discharged.  The state announced 197 new fatalities today, for a cumulative death toll of 9,702.

‘Collapse in Revenues’

April revenue collections declined 60 percent when compared to last April, Murphy said at today’s press conference – an unprecedented $3.5 billion decrease. He added that April data generally reflects March’s activity, including the weeks before the state’s economy was shut down.

Murphy added, “… we know the numbers for May – which will encompass all of April – will almost certainly bear similar or worse news.”

Once again pressing for more federal funding, Murphy said, “We cannot sustain a collapse in revenues without turning to unprecedented layoffs – layoffs, by the way, of the very people we are relying upon the most, at this time: Our public health workers, our first responders, our educators and dedicated state employees who have been working to make sure everyone who has filed for unemployment insurance gets the money they deserve.

“We also cannot sustain a collapse in revenues without gutting many of the economic and social service programs we will be relying upon to help fuel our restart and recovery, and get our families and our state back up off the mat.”

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

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