Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that the state will have a staggered-entry Stage 2 of its recovery — which includes the reopening of non-essential retail, outdoor dining and personal care — but not until June 15.
Speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing, Murphy said non-essential retail and outdoor dining will be permitted starting June 15.
Personal care businesses (mainly hair and nail establishments) will be allowed to open June 22.
Murphy said a date for gyms and health clubs will be announced later.
Murphy said New Jersey will provide guidance on rules and regulations for reopening later in the week.
Murphy said the reopenings are a result of ever-improving medical numbers. And he said he knows the timing of the openings is not as quick as some would like.
“We have listened intently to every voice — those who said we were acting too quickly, those who said we were acting too slowly,” he said. “We believe, as the overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans do, that we’re acting responsibly, given the severity of this pandemic and the tremendous toll that it has taken on our state.”
Murphy warned the state is still facing a health risk — and said the state’s growing ability to test is a big help.
“As we open, we know there is a greater chance for transmission of the virus,” he said. “This is why one of our critical data points was testing capacity, and we now have robust testing in place to help us test more people and quickly identify outbreaks.
“As we sit here, there is no cure. There is no vaccine. There is no proven therapeutic. The only cure is responsibility — responsibility on behalf of us in government to get our only shot at restart right — and responsibility on behalf of the 9 million of you to continue with social distancing, to practice safe hygiene and to wear face coverings in public.
“Because this virus is among us, we will act as quickly as we can, but as safely as we must. Our economic restart will fail if we fail to instill the confidence we need among our residents and visitors that their safety, and that of their families, is our number one priority.”
Opposition to the announcement came quickly. State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywomen Serena DiMasio (both R-Holmdel) released a statement questioning why the openings aren’t coming sooner.
“This is another sad example of the Murphy administration needlessly micromanaging and seriously damaging a key component of our economy,” O’Scanlon said. “It is devastating for these business owners. I hear from them every day. Grown men in tears. It is totally unnecessary. There is no scientific basis for New Jersey to be this far behind other states reopening safely.”
“Restaurant owners respectfully asked for a June 5 opening date, in line with most of the region,” DiMaso said. “Now, they are going to lose another two precious summer weekends of business and they didn’t receive any real acknowledgment of their pleas last week.
“This past weekend was a perfect example of optimal outdoor dining weather. So many could have opened outdoor seating this weekend and brought in desperately needed revenue. Instead they sit waiting for scraps of guidance and acknowledgement that comes too late.”