MORRISTOWN, NJ – A group of Morris County business owners led by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce and Assemblyman Brian Bergen launched a petition seeking to force Gov. Phil Murphy to speed up his reopening plan.
The group, called “Unlock New Jersey,” also presented Murphy with a proposal to responsibly and decisively unlock his Covid-19 shut-down of Garden State businesses.
The proposal provides a timeline and guidance including provisions for monitoring for any outbreaks as businesses engage in a safe, staggered reopening while moving toward a fully operational state economy. It was the result of a town hall meeting of more than 30 small business owners including Morris County Freeholder Stephen Shaw; Joseph Falco Jr., owner of Rose City Jewelers; Carmen DePasquale, owner of DePasquale the Spa; Robyn Acceturo, owner of West Orange Jewelers; and tax policy attorney Rosemary Becchi.
“If we wait any longer, there will be nothing left for our communities to reopen,” said Falco, a gemologist and owner of Rose City Jewelers in Madison.
More than 861,000 small businesses employed 1.8 million workers in the state before Murphy announced a mandatory statewide stay at home order and the closure of all non-essential businesses.
As a result, the group says that Main Street mom-and-pop shops are failing and many will not survive this crisis, while corporate big-box stores unfairly operate under exemptions in Murphy’s executive orders that deem almost all other businesses non-essential. They say, thousands of New Jersey’s boutiques, jewelry stores, professional services companies, salons and other small business are better suited than big-box stores to offer social distancing and protections to patrons while operating, so there is no reason to keep them shuttered.
The group is also asking supporters to demonstrate their support by sending virtual or real keys to Murphy.