The impact of COVID-19 on business finances has been significant, and, according to the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey, will continue. However, as the number of coronavirus cases declines, steps need to be taken to reopen the state safely and effectively.
With that, CCSNJ released on Wednesday its Economic Reopening and Recovery Plan for South Jersey. The plan, which will outline key metrics to safely reopen the economy and focus on the health and safety of residents, will stem from feedback of more than 100 South Jersey business owners, it said.
“Now that we see the curve of the impact of COVID-19 cases flattening, it is important to look forward to the planning of reopening of the state’s economy,” Christina Renna, CCSNJ CEO and president, said. “This plan, formulated with input from our members, puts forward a staggered, regional reopening approach that prioritizes certain areas in South Jersey and low-risk industries for reopening as quickly and safely as possible.”
On Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the formation of a statewide council of leaders who will help organize plans to restart the economy, including Renna, who will serve on the Main Street subcommittee.
“I look forward to working with the administration on the governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council to implement this plan,” Renna said.
Derived from the group’s feedback, the CCSNJ proposed the following approaches to reopening with a specific focus on what South Jersey businesses need.
In the “Shore Region”, which includes Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth and Ocean counties, CCSNJ said it strongly endorses a specialized plan issued on May 5 by the County of Cape May and a casino reopening plan as suggested by the Casino Association of New Jersey.
In the “South Jersey Region” region, which includes Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties, the CCSSNJ recommended this area be prioritized to reopen based on a combination of health, geographic and demographic data.
“Low risk industries should be considered for initial reopening of the economy, as well as critical infrastructure and shovel ready projects in South Jersey,” CCSNJ said.
Taking into consideration the low number of COVID-19 cases in the region, the CCSNJ said reopening should start with 25% capacity and move to 50% only if it proves to not spike new cases.
The CCSNJ also recommended:
- Strict adherence to safety guidelines, such as physical distancing, increased cleaning protocols and more training, for the employer, employee and customer;
- Assistance for businesses to gain access and purchase available PPE;
- New financial assistance streams for micro and small businesses, especially those in low to moderate income fields;
- Strict adherence to guidelines for large employers on reopening large-scale office spaces;
- Safe options for childcare to allow parents and women-owned businesses to reopen/return to work;
- No consideration given to tax increases as the state debates the FY2021 budget.