Gov. Phil Murphy detailed plans Monday for reopening the state and what the road back to recovery from COVID-19 would look like.
“This isn’t going to be quick,” Murphy said. “We’re going to move deliberately based on data. We have to move forward based on the facts.”
Murphy explained that the new normal would be different.
“After 9/11, new security measures were put into place that we were not accustomed to. Those practices are now part of our routines,” said Murphy, giving the example of increased airport screenings and security.
“The aftermath of COVID-19 will be similar. Social distancing will still be the rule of the days ahead,” he added.
Murphy signed an executive order allowing certain outdoor recreational businesses — batting cages, golf driving ranges, shooting & archery ranges, horseback riding, and private tennis clubs — to open with social distancing this Friday, joining New Jersey beaches and lakes.
He then announced a multi-stage approach to execute “a responsible and strategic economic restart to put New Jersey on the road back to recovery from COVID-19.”
The multi-stage approach uses science, data, and facts to determine which businesses and activities can reopen according to their risk level and challenges they face to safeguard public health.
Murphy said the state will guided by its ability to protect against a new COVID-19 outbreak with expanded testing and contact tracing, and clear social distancing safeguards in place.
“We are currently in Stage 1, and we will aim to move through each stage quickly, but also judiciously, with the public health of our communities and all New Jerseyans in mind. We are also counting on all New Jerseyans to continue keeping themselves and their neighbors safe by wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, and limiting gatherings,” Murphy added.
Restaurants, limited personal care services, expanded child care, museums, libraries and retail stores will be part of the Stage 2 phase of reopening. No firm date has been announced, but Murphy said the state could reach Stage 2 in a matter of weeks.
“As we enter each stage, we will allow businesses and activities to reopen according to their risk level and the challenges they will face to safeguard public health. This will not be everyone at once as we reach a new stage,” Murphy said.
Data will determine dates, Murphy reiterated, and that data includes number of new coronavirus cases and number of patients in the hospital (and specifically in intensive care and on ventilators).
More than 10,000 New Jerseyans have died from COVID-19 and the number of positive cases is nearing 150,000.
“Until either a proven vaccine is in our midst, we cannot firmly enter the new normal which eventually awaits us, when life again will once again return to all of our workplaces, downtowns and main streets,” Murphy said.
Murphy mentioned outdoor seating as one of the first opportunities for diners to patronize restaurants beyond curbside pick up currently available. He also said that might be followed by allowing some reduced capacity for indoor dining.
Here’s what the Stages 1-3 look like:
- Restrictions relaxed on low-risk activities if appropriately safeguarded. New Jersey is currently in this stage.
- Phased-in businesses may include:
- Non-essential, but easiest to safeguard, work activities at physical locations if they meet safeguarding and modification guidelines. For example, non-essential construction with protections.
- Some non-essential retail may open with significant modifications. For example, curbside pickup.
- All workers who can work from home continue to work from home even if their industry is reopening. For example, an office manager for a construction company.
- Phased-in activities include State and county parks, non-essential construction, curbside retail, drive-in activities, beaches, and elective surgeries.
- Restrictions are relaxed on additional activities that can be easily safeguarded.
- Phased-in businesses may include:
- More work activities are allowed at physical locations only if they adhere to safeguarding and modification guidelines. For example, work activities to be phased-in over the course of Stage 2 may include expanded retail, safeguarded restaurants with outdoor seating, limited personal care, and possibly indoor dining, museums, and libraries, all with significantly reduced capacity.
- All workers who can work from home continue to work from home. For example, a buying manager for restaurants.
- Some personal care services may be provided on a limited basis.
- Restrictions are relaxed on most activities with significant safeguarding.
- Phased-in businesses include:
- More work activities, including in-person meetings, are allowed at physical locations only if they can adhere to safeguarding guidelines and modifications. For example, work activities to be phased-in over the course of Stage 3 may include expanded dining, critical in-office work, limited entertainment, expanded personal care, and bars with limited capacity.
- All workers who can work from home continue to work from home. For example, accounting office workers.
- Personal care services may be provided on a more extended basis.
- Precautions that apply across all stages include:
- Work that can be done from home should continue to be done from home.
- Clinically high-risk individuals who can stay at home should continue to do so.
- All residents and businesses should follow state and federal safeguarding guidelines:
- Wash hands
- Wear masks in public
- Respect social distancing
- Minimize gatherings
- Disinfect workplace and businesses
- Minimize gatherings
- No mass gatherings