TRENTON, N.J. – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut issued a travel advisory last month that requires people arriving from states with high coronavirus rates to quarantine for 14 days.
“Two-weeks of captivity solely for the ‘offense’ of coming from out of state is really an unworkable plan,” said Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney (R-Bergen). “Where you came from has a lot less to do with spreading the virus than what you did while you were there.”
Rooney said that New Jersey residents visiting family out of state, who are free from the virus, should not be lumped together with all travelers.
Murphy’s advisory applies to travel from certain states identified as those that have a positive COVID-19 test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or have a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. As of Tuesday 22 states meet that criteria including, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.
The biggest problem Rooney notes is the long delays in getting test results.
“The length of time to get coronavirus test results in New Jersey has been increasing steadily for three weeks,” said Rooney. “That’s also unacceptable. We have to make this turn around a lot faster.”
Rooney suggested Murphy lift the quarantine order and require a blend of testing, symptom checks, public education and adherence to prevention guidelines and protocols.
Rooney is also concerned that New Jersey’s tourism-dependent economy is being hit hard by the restrictions.
“Seasonal-business owners don’t have much time to earn their income,” said Rooney. “A lot of these smaller businesses don’t have travelers for more than a few days at a time. People don’t come to New Jersey to sit in a hotel room.”
The state’s tourism industry had 116 million visitors last year, spending $46.4 billion and generating over $5 billion in state and local tax revenue, which is equivalent to $1,580, according a 2019 economic impact report. Visitor spending increased each of the past ten years, rising by nearly 4 percent last year.
“It already would have been a down year because of the virus, but now it will certainly be worse,” concluded Rooney.
Last Thursday’s jobs reports noted that 1.35 million New Jerseyans have filed unemployment claims, and many of those jobs are at risk of being lost permanently.