Leaders from nearly every industry say it’s time for NJ to reopen
More than 100 of New Jersey’s top business groups and nonprofit organizations are urging Gov. Phil Murphy to end the extended “pause mode” and move forward with the economic reopening of the Garden State.
On Tuesday, the New Jersey Business Coalition sent Murphy a letter detailing why the reopening should continue after more than a six-week freeze.
“We’ve heard all along that data determines dates — that’s the governor’s words — and right now the data is clear that New Jersey is ready to continue the reopening process,” said Michele Siekerka, the president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, a member of the Coalition.
“If we can’t reopen tomorrow, the business community needs visibility to what the plan is if the pause mode continues so that they can plan,” she added.
COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, the spot positivity rate and the rate of transmission in New Jersey all continue to drop or remain low, signaling New Jersey is one of the few states that has the virus under control.
Indoor dining, bars and indoor entertainment venues and other businesses have not been permitted to reopen even with limited capacity after they were ordered closed in mid-March.
Tom Bracken, the president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said allowing different regions of the state to reopen based on the current metrics is a common-sense approach that should be adopted immediately.
“It’s a very simple fact-based methodology that is using the data carefully,” he said. “If the metrics remain positive, businesses should remain open and if they start to fall back then maybe there’s a contraction. But the good news there is the businesses will be able to prepare for that because they’ll know what numbers to be watching.”
Siekerka said that being on pause “is very challenging because it feels like we’re stuck in a tactical mode right now versus a strategic mode. The reality is we need a plan.”
Bracken said the numbers indicate the medical crisis in New Jersey is now under control.
“The curve has been flattened but we have an economic crisis that’s out there that has not been addressed appropriately," he said.
A spokesman for Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey's response to the pandemic has been succeeding in keeping down infections and deaths, and that Murphy's "approach has been followed by state after state."
"The consequences of states opening too quickly and opening higher risk businesses too soon are evident in the spikes that many states are now experiencing," Michael Zhadanovsky said in an email.
"The governor, working with the Restart and Recovery Commission, public health professionals, business leaders, and many other stakeholders, is committed to reopening more areas of business as soon as it is safe to do so," he said.
While the administration seeks to borrow $10 billion to make up lost revenue in the state budget, Bracken said getting more people back to work would be a better way to bring back tax revenue.
"It’s another way to help take the pressure off the budget. It is needed now and the medial numbers justify it," he argued.
Siekerka said without some kind of clear-cut plan, “we’re going to continue to see businesses go out of business, we’re going to continue to see the loss of jobs and we’re going to continue to see our economy continue to tank.”
The groups in the New Jersey Business Coalition include:
- African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, Inc.
- American Camp Association NY/NJ
- New Jersey Camps Government Affairs Project
- American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey
- American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey
- Bernards Township Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Bus Association of New Jersey
- Cape May County Chamber of Commerce
- Capital Region Minority Chamber of Commerce
- Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia
- Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey
- Chemistry Council of NJ
- New Jersey Chemistry Council
- Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey
- CrossState Credit Union Association
- Downtown New Jersey
- Early Childhood Education Advocates
- Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce
- Employers Association of NJ
- Fuel Merchants Associates of NJ
- Garden State Pharmacy Owners, Inc
- Global Business Alliance
- Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce
- Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce
- Healthcare Institute of NJ
- Hoboken Chamber of Commerce
- Home Care & Hospice Association of New Jersey
- Home Health Services Association of New Jersey
- Hudson County Chamber of Commerce
- Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce
- Insurance Council of New Jersey
- International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association
- Jersey Shore Partnership
- Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Marine Trades Association of New Jersey
- Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Meadowlands Chamber
- Monmouth Ocean Development Council
- Morris County Chamber of Commerce
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
- Newark Alliance
- Newark Regional Business Partnership
- New Jersey Asphalt Pavement Association
- New Jersey Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons
- New Jersey Association of Mental Health & Addiction Agencies
- New Jersey Business & Industry Association
- New Jersey Campground Owners and Outdoor Lodging Association
- New Jersey Civil Justice Institute
- New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers
- New Jersey Concrete and Aggregate Association
- New Jersey Dental Association
- New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association
- New Jersey Hotel and Lodging Industry Association
- New Jersey Independent Electrical Contractors Association
- New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce
- New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance
- New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc.
- New Jersey Motor Truck Association
- New Jersey Pharmacists Association
- New Jersey Podiatric Medical Society
- New Jersey Realtors
- New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association
- New Jersey Retail Merchants Association
- New Jersey Salon and Spa Coalition
- New Jersey Self Insurers Association
- New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants
- New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce
- New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association
- New Jersey State Veterans Chamber of Commerce
- New Jersey Tourism Industry Association
- New Jersey Utilities Association
- New Jersey Warehousemen & Movers Association
- New Jersey Utilities Association
- New Jersey YMCA State Alliance
- New York Shipping Association, Inc.
- North Jersey Jewish Business Alliance
- Ocean City Chamber of Commerce
- Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey (PIANJ)
- Recreational Fishing Alliance
- Salem County Chamber of Commerce
- Somerset County Business Partnership
- Southern NJ Development Council
- Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce
- Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ
- Sussex County Chamber of Commerce
- The United Boatmen of N.J.
- Union Township Chamber of Commerce
- United Way of Northern New Jersey
- Washington Borough BID
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com