‘Unlock New Jersey’ calls for coronavirus reopening of small businesses

The goal is to 'responsibly and decisively' reopen small businesses

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A band of frustrated New Jersey residents wants the state reopened sooner not later.

In an effort to placate a growing group of business owners and concerned citizens unhappy with the coronavirus-prompted shutdown, it launched the Unlock New Jersey initiative with a goal of “responsibly and decisively” reopening small businesses, per a report.

The group, which is also asking concerned residents to send physical or virtual keys to Gov. Phil Murphy as a symbolic gesture, argues small business owners need help as the COVID-19 pandemic forces locals shops to close and people to stay home.

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“If we wait any longer, there will be nothing left for our communities to reopen,” Joseph Falco Jr., a gemologist and owner of Rose City Jewelers, said in a statement. He’s joining with about 30 other small business owners to urge the governor to reopen the state.

The group is taking safety measures into consideration, like opening shops and malls where the virus has had the biggest impact to only 25 percent or 50 percent capacity. Other companies across the country, aside from offering pickup or delivery where possible, have taken similar approaches in states that have gradually begun lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

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Shopping mall operator Simon Property Group, for example, said it would reopen roughly 50 percent of its properties with measures in place to slow the spread of the virus, including limiting store hours, reducing foot traffic and providing face covers and stripping some chairs from gathering areas to encourage social distancing. Mall-goers will see messaging detailing certain safety measures, including floor decals that encourage social distancing.

Another company, Hilton, in anticipating customers returning, partnered with the maker of Lysol and consulted with the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Response Team to develop enhanced cleaning procedures. Meanwhile, Airbnb is enforcing stricter protocols, requiring rentals to stay vacant for at least 24 hours between checkout and a new reservation. Other retailers like Amazon and Walmart are enforcing temperature checks for employees.

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Unlock New Jersey is not the only group fighting to reopen in the pandemic.

A gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, reopened Monday despite the stay-at-home order. Owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti were issued a court summons for violating the rule but said they followed safety guidelines by operating at 20 percent capacity, taking temperatures upon entry, requiring guests to wear face covers and encouraging social distancing.

More than 149,000 residents of the Garden State have been infected with the novel virus, including roughly 10,586 related deaths. Murphy, the governor, issued a stay-at-home order in March that is still in effect. This month he said he was extending a public health emergency declaration for 30 days, allowing him to use state resources to combat the virus.

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