Murphy on future retail openings: ‘Sooner than later, but we’re just not there yet’

Gov. Phil Murphy would not commit to opening more retail stores — but he did say that decision could come sooner rather than later, depending on health care statistics.

“(It’s) clearly on a list of considerations,” he said. “We need to continue to see more progress on the health care curves for us to take more steps.

“That’s not to say that this is a lifetime sentence, it’s not to say that it won’t come at some point sooner than later, but we’re just not there yet.”

Murphy, speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing Monday, was responding to a question that, if grocery stores, pharmacies and liquor stores could be in social distancing rules, why couldn’t small retailers?

He said the opening of stores was based on essential need — not just the ability to enforce social distancing.

“Remember, the core mantra so far is, ‘Stay at home,’” he said.

Murphy acknowledged some openings — including parks — were made for mental health reasons, too, saying people needed places to blow off steam.

“We needed to let people get out, assuming that they adhered and complied — and, overwhelmingly, they did,” he said.

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