Murphy opens up the state … just a little

Starting Monday, non-essential construction can restart — and non-essential retail can have curbside pickup

By Tom Bergeron
Trenton | May 13, 2020 at 3:10 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy announced three steps in which New Jersey will be allowed to reopen — including curbside pickup for non-essential businesses — beginning Monday morning.

Starting Monday, the state will allow:

  • Non-essential construction to restart;
  • Non-essential retail stores to reopen for curbside pickup;
  • Drive-through and drive-in events.

Murphy, speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing, said the first two steps show the state is beginning the careful process of restarting our economy and getting our state on the road back — and that it is able to do so because of positive data and the recommendation of health officials.

“New hospitalizations are down two-thirds from the peak,” he said. “Total hospitalizations are down by nearly half since the peak. The numbers of patients in ICU and on ventilators are both down significantly. Positive cases are down nearly 70%, and deaths have decreased by more than one-third from the peak.”

Murphy said it is just a start — and that he hopes to have more on elective surgeries and procedures, access to the Shore and the opening of local pools by the end of the week.

“This is how we transition to a safe, smart and sustainable way of life,” he said. “We make this decision based on what can be safely opened and operated. And, we are sequencing our decisions so we can learn from them and apply these lessons as we move ahead.

“We want to be quick. But we have to be right.”

Murphy said the state is growing more confident that people can maintain the standards of social distancing that have been important in meeting the data benchmarks.

“At our construction sites, we know that work can resume with sensible safeguards in place to prevent overcrowding at the jobsite, requiring the use of face coverings, to prohibit non-essential visitors from the site, to stagger work-hours and breaks to limit the number of workers at one time, and to ensure proper sanitation, among other steps which we will require,” he said.

Murphy noted all safety protocols must be clearly posted at the jobsite so workers will know that their health and safety is priority No. 1.

He also made it clear that no customers will be allowed back into non-essential retail stores at this time.

“We are explicitly permitting curbside pickup,” he said. “We can get small businesses back up and running in a manner that continues to protect both workers and shoppers.”

As for drive-up and drive-through gatherings, Murphy again stressed the need for social distancing.

“We are stating that gatherings of vehicles, such as drive-in movies or religious services, are not a violation of my order prohibiting mass gatherings, so long as all participants remain in their cars,” he said. “If vehicles are closer than 6 feet apart, then all windows, sunroofs or convertible tops must remain closed, unless the safety of the occupants is endangered.

“I must reiterate, however, in other cases, the ban on gatherings still applies, and that residents should still stay at home as much as possible.”

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