Peterson pushes to safely reopen businesses with new legislation

Peterson pushes to safely reopen businesses with new legislation

Erik Peterson

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Erik Peterson’s “Healthy Citizens and Healthy Business Act,” which is scheduled to be introduced May 4, would allow non-essential businesses shuttered by Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order to reopen providing they comply with safety protocols. 

“We need to make decisions based on science and common sense and not fear mongering,” said Peterson (R-Hunterdon). “If we do not immediately begin to re-start our economy the economic toll of Governor’s Murphy’s never ending no risk approach will be more devastating on the health and welfare of New Jersey residents than the coronavirus.” 

Since Mid-March, more than 718,000 residents have filed for unemployment. More than twice as many jobs have been lost as were gained since the Great Recession. As many as one out of every six workers in the nation has had their jobs negatively impacted by efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Those who do qualify for unemployment are dealing with significant lags in the state’s antiquated system and those who don’t qualify are facing dire economic uncertainties,” said Peterson. “Families and entrepreneurs are facing life altering financial consequences because of Murphy’s misplaced drastic and draconian measures. Where have the days gone when the Democratic Party leaders believed the only thing to ‘fear was fear itself’?” 

Peterson’s legislation is based on a Republican-backed bill passed last week by Pennsylvania’s Senate that would permit businesses to reopen if they abide by mitigation strategies to provide employees the necessary protections to prevent the spread of the coronavirus while at work. Under Peterson’s bill, businesses would need to comply with all rules and regulations from the New Jersey Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and specific protections for those individuals who by age or underlying health conditions are in the CDC high risk category or have a member of their immediate household in the high risk category.

Other guidelines that non-essential retail businesses would be required to follow include a work from home policy, if practicable, a minimum of six feet between workers and the public, a regular cleaning and sanitization schedule, closing break rooms and dining areas, and prohibiting shared use of equipment and office furniture.

“We have to prevent businesses in this state from dying from the governor’s misplaced policies and use science and facts to allow businesses to reopen. Our response to the coronavirus outbreak must include a reopening strategy that is considered sooner rather than later,” said Peterson. “My legislation is safe, smart and gets us moving in the right direction.”