Coronavirus in N.J.: What is reopening? Beaches, construction sites, curbside businesses may be next. (May 7, 2020)
Gov. Phil Murphy says he is considering allowing more New Jersey businesses to reopen with curbside service or other social-distancing guidelines. He gave a window of what may come next on Wednesday night after he extended the public health emergency by 30 days.
Guidance for beaches, nonessential construction being allowed again and some businesses offering curbside pickup and delivery could be next in line, Murphy noted.
Cape May County officials have already sent Murphy a plan to incrementally reopen beaches, boardwalks, bars and other staples of the county’s tourism industry over the next two months.
New Jersey, a state of 9 million residents, had reported at least 131,890 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday and had 8,549 deaths attributed to the virus in two months. Only New York has more among American states. The state reported another 1,513 positive tests and 308 deaths Wednesday.
Here is the breakdown of what is closed and what remains open or has adapted its services in response to COVID-19:
Restaurants and bars are open, but have been ordered by Murphy not to accept dine-in customers. Takeout and delivery services can be offered on a limited basis, and establishments that serve alcohol will be provided a waiver for carry-out alcohol, Murphy said. Customers picking up food must also wear face coverings.
Fast-food chains like Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, McDonald’s, KFC and Starbucks announced they are enhancing delivery services, according to a report by Food & Wine. Burger King, Domino’s, Moe’s and Popeye’s are also enhancing their delivery sources according to a report by Delish.
Starbucks said it plans to reopen some cafes and hopes to have about 85% of its coffee shops across the nation reopened as states ease restrictions. It is not clear if that includes New Jersey, which still has strict orders in place. Starbucks had announced shuttering most of its stores and allowing only drive-thru and delivery orders at the height of the pandemic.
Dunkin’ locations around metropolitan New York are still limiting service to drive-thru ordering, carry-out, curbside pick-up at select locations and delivery only.
The state is now allowing pet groomers, pet daycare providers and pet boarding businesses to operate.
Breweries and brew pubs are also being granted special permission to conduct home deliveries. Some had already started the service and then had to scramble for permission from the state.
New Jersey state and county parks and golf courses reopened May 2 in the first major change to the near-lockdown orders implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state. Murphy put a cap at 50% parking capacity as one of the conditions to reopening the parks.
Few beaches will be open though, and Sandy Hook will not reopen until May 9. Murphy said on May 4 that Jersey Shore towns can expect some guidance on restrictions for beaches from state officials soon.
The governor said Jersey Shore towns could restrict parking capacity — similar to restrictions placed on state parks when they reopened last weekend — and there could be a limit on how many beach badges are sold.
New Jersey car dealers and real estate agents got some clarification on how they can continue to operate during the coronavirus outbreak.
For Realtors, houses for sale can be shown to prospective buyers on a one-on-one basis or to immediate family. Open houses, however, remain banned.
Auto dealers can make sales remotely and online, allowing vehicles to be delivered to customers or allowing for curbside pickup. Car repair and service centers had previously only been allowed to remain open.
You can also test drive a car before you buy it. Under revised rules issued on April 27, if you order a vehicle online or over the phone, you now can test drive it before buying, as long you are alone in the car, and the vehicle is cleaned and sanitized afterward should you decide not to buy it.
Stores & supermarkets deemed essential, from CVS, Walmart and Costco to ShopRite and Trader Joe’s are open
The essential businesses that remain open — some with limitations — include:
- Auto repair shops
- Banks and other financial institutions
- Bars and restaurants (for drive-through, delivery and takeout only)
- Bicycle shops (but only to provide service and repairs)
- Convenience stores and grocery stores (any stores that sell food)
- Farming equipment stores
- Food banks
- Gas stations
- Gun shops
- Hardware stores
- Laundromats and dry-cleaning services
- Liquor stores
- Livestock feed stores
- Mail and package delivery stores
- Medical supply stores
- Microbreweries or brewpubs (for home delivery only)
- Mobile phone retail and repair shops
- Nurseries and garden centers
- Office supply stores and printing shops
- Pet stores
- Pet groomers, pet daycare providers and pet boarding businesses
- Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries
- Stores that sell items for religious observance or worship
- Stores that sell supplies for young children
Construction sites are not closed, and manufacturers, ports and logistics operations can continue operating with staff at minimal levels.
Many essential retailers, including supermarkets, have established shopping hours for seniors and those at risk if they were to be exposed to the coronavirus, and have limited the number of customers being allowed in the stores at any one time. It is best to check each store’s website for the latest information on hours and purchase restrictions.
Murphy has required all store employees and shoppers to wear face masks or coverings to help fight the coronavirus outbreak until further notice and has limited customers in stores to a max of 50% of the store’s capacity. The governor announced on April 8 he signed a new executive order to enforce the rule.
Store employees are allowed to limit the time offenders are allowed to stay in the store and ask people anybody who is not wearing a mask or covering to stay away from other customers, a Murphy official said.
Workers will also be required to wear gloves if they are interacting with customers, Murphy said. Businesses are required to give workers masks, coverings and gloves at the businesses’ expense. Those under age 2 or those with medical reasons for not wearing a face covering are exempt.
Murphy’s order that all personal care businesses be closed, including barber shops, hair and nail salons, spas, tattoo parlors and social clubs, remains in effect.
The state’s order also prevents hairdressers and other personal care business workers or owners from providing services in their own home, other homes or business settings to anyone but family members, other members of their households, or individuals with whom they have close personal relationships, such as a caretaker. This includes hosting clients or visiting their homes. A business relationship alone does not count as a close personal relationship, the order states.
The state Department of Health announced it will enact regulatory reforms to ease burdens of patients seeking to buy medical marijuana during the coronavirus outbreak.
Dispensaries can now offer curbside pickup to patients, ridding them of the need to enter the storefronts or stand in lines. Patients can also now register caregivers or designated people to pick up their medicine at the reduced fee of $20 previously offered to some low-income patients.
Yes, banks can remain open, but some have opted to close locations. Some branches and stores will modify hours, and it is always good to call your bank or visit its website before venturing out.
Child day care centers in New Jersey closed until further notice unless they “solely serve” the kids of “essential workers.” State officials have unveiled a program to help cover child care costs for essential workers fighting the virus outbreak.
United States Postal Service offices remain open and continue to deliver mail, according to its website’s FAQs section. Printing and office supply shops and mail and delivering shops will be allowed to remain open.
FedEx and UPS are continuing to deliver.
While Amazon is continuing to deliver all shipments, it is temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products according to a post on its website, which is updated periodically. However, because of a high volume in orders, your delivery may be delayed.
Gatherings of any size, including for religious services, have been banned in New Jersey since Gov. Murphy issued his executive order on March 21. However, many churches and temples are hosting services virtually. Here is a list of houses of worship offering live-streaming.
On April 27 the governor said stores that sell items for religious observance or worship can be open.
Gun retailers in New Jersey are open as essential businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, Murphy announced at the end of March, in a reversal of his previous position on this issue.
Murphy’s decision to deem firearm dealers an essential business follows guidelines issued by the federal Department of Homeland Security, which added gun dealers, ranges and manufacturers to its essential business guide for its coronavirus response.
The gun shops may re-open “by appointment only and under limited hours,” Murphy said. He said the state would continue to enforce its regulations on gun sales.
Some municipal court sessions will begin proceeding remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic, but jury trials and grand jury proceedings will remain suspended for the time being.
The governor on April 11 cut NJ Transit trains and buses to 50% capacity and ordered employees and riders to wear face coverings.
Several organizations and state health officials are asking people to step up in the fight against COVID-19 by donating blood. Donating blood is considered an “essential” service during statewide lockdowns, so you are allowed to venture outside your house to donate.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced May 4 that New Jersey schools will remain closed for the rest of this academic year. The state’s schools will continue teaching more than 1.4 million public school students from home.
Schools have been closed since March because of the coronavirus outbreak and schools in the three states that border New Jersey — Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania — have already announced that in-person instruction has been halted through the end of the academic year.
Centers are closed statewide until further notice.
Elective surgeries in New Jersey are temporarily suspended so resources can be directed to fighting the spread of coronavirus.
Murphy signed an executive order in March that stops surgeries and invasive procedures on adults as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread. It applies to all medical and dental operations that can be delayed without risk to patients. Family planning – such as abortions – has been allowed to continue.
Libraries around the state have been ordered closed, but residents can continue to access many of their resources without having to leave the comfort of their own bedrooms.
Digital collections — like e-books, videos and music — are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at various libraries across the Garden State, particularly larger ones that cater to a wider base of library users.
Murphy has ordered all indoor malls and amusement parks to close.
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor were originally scheduled to open for the 2020 season on April 4. The opening date was later pushed back to May 18. As of Wednesday, there is no set date to welcome visitors back to the park.
Visitors will have to make reservations to visit the popular Jackson theme park once it gets the green light from state officials to reopen.
Murphy in March ordered all movie theaters to close.
Many Shore towns have closed their boardwalks and some have restricted beach access, although restrictions began to ease at the beginning of May. While people can visit some boardwalks, few beaches were open the first weekend of May and Sandy Hook will not reopen until May 9.
Some municipal and state leaders had previously asked people with Shore houses to not relocate in an effort to prevent community spread of the virus. Murphy warned of crackdowns on those violating the shelter-in-place efforts. Some Shore towns have also banned short-term rentals.
Jersey Shore towns can expect some guidance on restrictions for beaches from state officials soon, Murphy said May 4.
Murphy said Jersey Shore towns could restrict parking capacity — similar to restrictions placed on state parks when they reopened last weekend — and there could be a limit on how many beach badges are sold.
Murphy had ordered all casinos to close. And they remained closed as of April 28.
All Motor Vehicle Commission offices in the state are closed. All driver licenses, non-driver IDs, vehicle registrations and inspection stickers expiring before May 31 have been extended by two months.
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton on May 7 announced that all agency, road testing and inspections facilities will remain closed until at least May 26.
Online processing of some documents is available on Motor Vehicle Commission’s website.
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