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Murphy Clears the Way for ‘Non-Essential’ Business to Reopen June 15, Outdoor Dining to Begin

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Gov. Phil Murphy delivers a press conference, April 2020. (Pool Photo: Rich Hundley/ The Trentonian
Gov. Phil Murphy delivers a press conference, April 2020. (Pool Photo: Rich Hundley/ The Trentonian

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that New Jersey will enter the second phase of reopening following a statewide lockdown to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Murphy announced at a press conference Monday that stores previously deemed non-essential may reopen June 15, with restrictions in place. Likewise, restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining the same day. Some towns, including Brick and Toms River, have passed ordinances streamlining the process for restaurants to create or expand outdoor dining areas. For those seeking a much-needed hair cut, the wait will be a bit longer. Personal care businesses, which include salons, barber shops and spas, cannot reopen until June 22.

Murphy said progress “is being seen across the state,” leading him to make the announcement. “I firmly believe we are going to stay on track.”

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Specifically, categories of businesses that can reopen in the coming weeks include:

  • Outdoor dining (beginning on June 15th)
  • Limited in-person retail (beginning on June 15th)
  • Hair salons and barber shops (beginning on June 22nd)
  • Youth summer programs (beginning on July 6th)
  • In-person clinical research/labs (TBD)
  • Limited fitness/gyms (TBD)
  • Limited in-person government services (e.g. – Motor Vehicle Commission) (TBD)
  • Museums/libraries (TBD)

The exact nature of the reopening process has yet to be announced. While non-essential businesses will be allowed to open their doors in some capacity, there will be specific rules regarding social distancing and occupancy that will be put in place. Those rules have not yet been published. There will be similar regulations imposed on restaurants with outdoor seating.

Murphy said face masks are still being suggested, but did not announce whether they will be mandatory once businesses reopen. He also said businesses that operate in office environments should continue to allow employees to work from home.

Business owners must continue to wait for directives from the state before they can begin planning specific strategies on how they can reopen.

“Once the guidance is received, businesses can make needed changes to their facilities and business models as they move toward their target reopening date,” said Michele Siekerka, CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. “So many of our New Jersey Main Street businesses, who are in dire economic straits, are desperate to reopen and are prepared to do so in a safe manner.”