A4910 County-Based Mitigation Plan
The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ) is proud to support A- 4910 (Burzichelli), which establishes a county-based mitigation plan to allow businesses to operate during pandemic.
Since March, COVID-19 has upended life in New Jersey. On March 21, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy announced extensive measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19, which mandated a statewide closure of all physical retail businesses deemed to be nonessential. He also issued a “stay at home order” that requested all residents remain in their homes. The financial consequences on businesses have been significant and unfortunately, are going to continue as we once again begin to see cases rise in a second wave of the virus.
Without question, the health and safety of all New Jersey residents must remain the priority. However, a statewide, one-size-fits-all approach, that refuses to consider the vast disparities in health metrics throughout different geographical areas of the State is not the way to continue to move forward. The virus has impacted each region of the state differently and the challenges of how to continue to operate differ greatly from the northern to the southern regions of the State. The specific geographic data be the top factor in making smart health and economic decisions.
Although some South Jersey-based businesses were against the decision to issue a statewide stay at home order before the region was seeing an impact from COVID-19, the Governor’s Executive Order 107 was meant to ensure that the healthcare infrastructure was not overwhelmed by the number of potential future cases converging at the same point in time. It is clear from the cases South Jersey saw, that the region reaped the benefits from the Order, with a far lower number of cases, and therefore hospitalizations, than our northern brethren.
One of the first organizations to put forth a regional approach to reopening, the CCSNJ submitted to the Governor on May 12, 2020, our South Jersey Economic Reopening and Recovery plan. This plan put forward a regionalized approach to reopening that takes COVID-19’s impact into account and outlined a detailed, staggered economic approach to resuming business operations in the southern portion of the state where the risk remains the lowest.
Our neighbors in Pennsylvania and New York took a regional approach to reopening their states and the CCSNJ believes this is a reasonable and measured path to consider as we continue to combat the virus.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf took a county-by-county approach to restrictions before issuing a statewide stay at home order on April 1 and took that same tact to reopening the economy. His plan for reopening was a color-coded phased approach — red, yellow and green — starting with the northwestern and central parts of the state.
Similar to the approach Governor Wolf took, under this bill, the Governor, in consultation with the Commissioner of the Department of Health, is directed to develop and implement a mitigation plan to allow business to operate during a pandemic. This plan will be developed by using empirical data, over a seven-day rolling average, to establish three categories of risk that will be organized by color-coded phases — red, yellow and green.
Importantly additional consideration given to a county containing a jail, university, or other large congregate facility. It is important to consider these large congregate facilities, as South Jersey’s cases may appear to have a hotspot, where a prison or university is located, though there is not wider community spread.
The CCSNJ is concerned, however that in this bill casinos are treated differently that other businesses in the same county. Under the bill, the Governor shall have the authority to summarily suspend the gaming operations of casino licensees within the State as part of the restrictions that the Governor may implement. The CCSNJ would like to respectfully request that the casinos be treated similarly to other businesses in the county they are located in.
Without a widely accessible vaccine, the virus is not going to go anywhere soon, however looking at the health data as this bill lays out, will give businesses the opportunity to economically recover and operate while maintaining the health and safety of all New Jersey residents. For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to vote “yes” on A-4910 (Burzichelli).