HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The newly-formed Mayors for Main Street alliance, including Hillsborough Mayor Doug Tomson, sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy, legislative leaders and county officials Thursday listing measures that they say need to be taken to get New Jersey back to business by lifting restrictions and allowing all "non-essential" businesses to re-open including restaurants.
The mayors characterize their recommendations as "appropriate and necessary steps."
"Local elected officials are more connected to the community they represent than any other public official," the mayors say in their letter, "and it is incumbent upon us as mayors to advocate for the needs of our communities. We have heard those needs loud and clear and now we need you to act."
1. "Allow for more localized policies: Right now, the state is implementing a “one size fits all” approach to the virus, but the reality is that different communities are differently situated, according to the group. "Statewide policies should be flexible to allow for individual mayors and municipalities to determine what works best for their communities based on their specific circumstances.
2. "afely open all “non-essential” businesses: "We ask the State to issue clear guidance on how businesses can practice safe social distancing while having their business open. This guidance could include formulas relating to the square footage of the facility and correlating that to the number of individuals allowed into the business at any given time and updating directions on the use of PPE for both employees and patrons.
3. "Safely Open Child Care Facilities: "We recommend that the state allow the reopening of day care facilities to the public and issue the related public health guidance to allow them to do so safely. Access to a family’s existing child care arrangements is critical to restarting our economy. Even parents who have the opportunity to work could be stymied with lack of child care options. In the same vein, we implore the state to issue clear guidance to operator’s of summer camps and similar businesses that will allow them to open as the school year comes to a close.
4. "Ease restrictions on the food service industry: Allow restaurants to open to customers for limited in-house dining and allow restaurants, with the capability, to utilize outdoor seating for their patrons.
5. "Focus on those residents most at risk: "We know now that senior citizens, especially those in long terms care facilities, are the segment of the population most at risk of contracting and passing away from COVID-19. Allow municipalities to implement smart business practices to protect those senior and at-risk residents without the overreaching impacts on the rest of the community. For instance, the group suggests permitting stores to open with special times for seniors as many of the supermarkets have already done, and to provide funding for food and safety supplies to be made available to at-risk individuals and long-term care facilities as needed."
Mayors for Main Street includes mayors from four counties, including Somerset, organized to "advocate for the swift and safe reopening of businesses within their communities."
The following Somerset County mayors are members:
• Mayor James Baldassare, Bernards Township;
• Mayor Zachery Bray, Raritan Borough,;
• Mayor Mary Jane Canose, Borough of Bernardsville;
• Mayor Larry Jacobs, Bedminster Township;
• Mayor Matthew Moench, Bridgewater Township;
• Mayor Michael "Mick" Marion, Warren Township;
• Mayor Richard Onderko, Manville Borough;
• Mayor Doug Tomson, Hillsborough Township;
• Mayor Paul Vallone, Far Hills Borough.