NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Nonessential businesses, shuttered because of the coronavirus outbreak, will open next week for curbside pickup, as will nonessential construction, Gov. Phil Murphy has announced.
Curbside pickup at businesses and nonessential construction can start at 6 a.m.. Monday.
The state's COVID-19 trends are headed in the right direction, Murphy said, leading him to relax the nearly two-month-old business shutdown.
Here's a breakdown of how phase one of reopening New Jersey will work:
Non-Essential Construction: The Order permits non-essential construction projects to resume effective at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18. All construction projects must abide by the social distancing, safety, and sanitization requirements that are described in detail in the Governor's Executive Order.
Curbside Pickup at Non-Essential Retail Businesses: The Order also permits non-essential retail businesses to allow curbside pickup of goods, beginning at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, but businesses must continue to have their in-store operations closed to customers. Businesses who choose to offer curbside pickup must abide by the requirements in the Order, which include but are not limited to the following:
1. In-store operations should be limited to those employees who are responsible for the operations required for curbside pickup;
2. Customer transactions should be handled in advance by phone, email, facsimile or other means that avoid person-to-person contact;
3. Customers shall notify the retailer by text message, email, or phone once they arrive, or make best efforts to schedule their arrival time in advance. The customer should be asked to remain in their vehicle, if arriving by car, until store staff delivers the purchase;
4. Designated employees should bring goods outside of the retail establishment and place goods directly in a customer's vehicle when possible, avoiding person-to-person contact; and
5. Such businesses must follow social distancing and mitigation practices outlined in previous orders, including requiring workers to wear cloth face coverings when in contact with other workers or customers and gloves when in contact with goods or customers.
Retail businesses operating in shopping malls are permitted to operate by curbside pickup, in accordance with the other requirements, but staff must bring the goods to customers at the exterior of the mall. The indoor portions of shopping malls must remain closed.
Car Gatherings: The Order states that car gatherings do not violate the Governor's ban on gatherings under Executive Order No. 107. Examples of such car gatherings include but are not limited to drive-in movies, religious services, or drive-through farms or safaris. Car gatherings will be subject to the restrictions in the Order, which include but are not limited to the following:
1. Attendees must remain in their same car throughout the gathering, unless 1) an occupant needs to get out of the vehicle for their health or safety or 2) an occupant needs to use the restroom;
2. The vehicle must remain closed at all times unless 1) there is six feet of distance between other vehicles or individuals or 2) an officer, public official or guard requires the vehicle to open. There is a further exception allowing the opening of the vehicle if necessary for health or safety;
3. Individuals organizing the gathering who are not in vehicles must follow social distancing and wear cloth face coverings; and
4. To the degree that a gathering requires pre-payment, or seeks donations of any kind, contactless options for pre-payment or donation, such as online or by telephone, must be offered wherever feasible.
While newly hospitalized people are down 28%, patients in hospitals are down 34% and people in intensive care and on ventilators are down about 30%, New Jersey still faces hurdles.
The state has higher hospitalization rates, positive cases and deaths per 100,000 people than any other state right now, Murphy said.
Murphy has been under increasing pressure, including from fellow Democrats in the Legislature, to restart businesses, and the state Treasury reported Wednesday April revenue collections were down 60% compared with last year. But Murphy said it was the declining figures and not the bleeding state budget that led him to reopen some businesses.
"We want to be quick, but we've got to be right," he said. He added: "This is a step in a positive direction for all those retailers who were deemed to be nonessential. I think it's a responsible one. We just don't want people congregating. I just don't know how else to say it."
With information from The Associated Press