In his daily address, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that due to a steady drop in COVID-19 cases, non-essential businesses could reopen starting Monday, with curbside pickup and no customers in the stores. The executive order will also allow non-essential construction to commence, with restrictions in place such as crew members wearing masks and staggered work hours.
It’s a baby step toward reopening the NJ economy, which has been devastated since the shutdown in March as the government tried to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The pandemic has hit New Jersey hard with more than 140,000 positive tests and 9,702 deaths as of Wednesday.
Gov. Murphy said that a slow reopening can commence, but that we still need to be vigilant with social distancing to keep our numbers from going up again.
“The data we are seeing gives us confidence that we can begin the careful and responsible restart of our economy—to get people back to work, and to begin to set the stage for the steps to come,” he said in his press conference.
New Jersey has been in near lockdown for eight weeks, and this is the second restriction Gov. Murphy has lifted, when he allowed for the reopening of state parks, county parks and golf courses on May 2.
Under the new order, drive-up events such as drive-in movies and drive-up religious services are now allowed, effective immediately, provided that people stay in their vehicles and maintain social distancing. The reopening of non-essential businesses for curbside pickup with go into effect Monday morning at 6 am. No customers will be allowed inside stores and orders must be placed in advance.
New Jersey’s economy has suffered due to the closures, with unemployment at a high and small businesses left wondering if they will survive the pandemic.
Gov. Murphy plans to have more solid dates on a slow reopening for the state by the end of the week but cautioned that it would be more like a dimmer switch, not a light switch suddenly flicking on.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” he said. “When compared to other states, we see that New Jersey still bears a significant burden from COVID-19. So keeping up with social distancing is essential as we move forward.”