NEW JERSEY — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that outdoor businesses can again welcome customers starting at 6 a.m. on May 22, including batting cages, shooting and archery ranges, horseback riding, tennis and community gardens.
But going back to business does not mean business as usual. Monday also marked the first day that non-essential retail stores could reopen for online and phone orders that customers could pick up curbside.
Some retailers inside one of the area's largest shopping centers — the Garden State Plaza mall — offered this service before COVID-19. But all was quiet outside the mall Monday, except for at some mall restaurants which were allowed to do takeout orders all along.
"The hardest nut of all to crack are the folks that are working indoors," said Murphy, adding high customer contact workers, like retail, bartenders and restaurants, will likely be the last to fully return to work.
“We are anticipating that some of the jobs which have been lost over the past 2 months may not return," said Murphy.
He laid out the next steps of the reopening of New Jersey in stages. Right now, the state is in stage one and working up to what he calls stage two.
Stage two would involve phasing in expanded retail, outdoor seating at restaurants, limited personal care and significantly reduced capacity for indoor dining, museums and libraries.
Stage three would allow in-person meetings, some in-office work, with limited access to entertainment, personal care businesses and bars.
At all three stages, Murphy said that hand washing, masks, social distancing and disinfecting surfaces would apply. No mass gatherings are allowed in any of the stages.
“And if we see a backslide we will not hesitate, we will take no joy in it, but we will not hesitate to take action," said Murphy.
Cool weather meant empty beaches down the shore today. But people lined up down the boardwalk in Belmar for seasonal beach badges early this morning, after badges in other shore towns sold out early.
Monmouth County leaders are advising anyone planning a day trip to check if badges will still be available.
“Before you get in your car and you come from the north or the south, okay know before you go. Because you could be wasting a trip," said Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone.