Murphy to provide more guidance on reopenings ‘Monday or Tuesday’

Governor says, ‘We’re taking deliberately incremental steps,’ while reopening charter boats, watercraft rentals

By Tom Bergeron
Trenton | May 18, 2020 at 5:52 am

Gov. Phil Murphy said he expects to give guidance for more state openings — and, potentially, the numbers that need to allow them to happen — as soon as Monday.

Murphy, speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing Saturday afternoon, also said New Jersey has intentionally been chipping away at executive orders that have closed down the state to make sure reopening events go as smoothly as possible.

“We’re taking deliberately incremental steps,” he said. “We’re trying to avoid particularly connected large steps taken together. That’s why you wouldn’t have seen state parks and beaches opening in the same weekend.

“We want to be able to assess the impact of our steps, be able to get our enforcement right, tweak it where we have to.”

Mike Karras/Gannett (pool)
Gov. Phil Murphy at Saturday’s COVID-19 briefing.

Murphy noted specifically the unintended consequences that occurred when the state opened parks — but not their restrooms.

The latest reopening involved charted fishing boats and watercraft rentals, which were given the go-ahead to resume — with restrictions — Sunday morning.

Murphy said he’ll address more openings either Monday or Tuesday of this week.

“I’m going to give you a little more detail on how we’re seeing this, (but) not with dates associated with it,” he said.

“(The media has) asked, rightfully, exactly what marker should we be expecting you to look at to trigger some actions. We want to give folks a little more detail on that.”

Murphy said residents need to understand that the stay-at-home restrictions are still in place — and will not be lifted in their entirety overnight.

“You should assume that executive orders that go toward opening are sort of removing bricks from that,” he said. “We’re going to — through actions we take — essentially chip away at the blanket stay-at-home reality. I think that sort of speaks for themselves.”

Murphy said he has no new guidance on a few items mentioned — including reopening day care or allowing an activity such as tennis. And he again reminded people that his administration reserves the right to reverse any openings it announces.

“I hope this doesn’t happen — and this would bring us no joy — but we reserve the right to put the brakes on and reverse the car if we think we have unintended — particularly bad health — consequences,” he said.

The resumption of charted boats came with the expected social distance guidelines, including the wearing of face coverings for all those on board plus a requirement that operators keep detailed logs of who was on each boat, in the event a case of COVID-19 is discovered among one of the participants.

Other requirements include:

  • Reduced capacity to no more than 10 people on a vessel at any one time;
  • Electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems;
  • Social distancing measures on the vessels and in waiting and boarding areas, including demarcation and signage;
  • Prohibiting sharing of fishing equipment, bait and gear;
  • Prohibiting food and beverage service.

“Reopening charter fishing services and watercraft rental businesses restores an extremely important component of our Shore economy,” Murphy said in statement. “The social distancing measures that we are putting in place will ensure that these businesses can sustain themselves while still adhering to public health guidance.”

Watercraft rental businesses will be allowed to reopen so long as they adopt policies consistent with the “curbside pickup” restrictions that apply to retail establishments.

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