Freeholders Offer Updates on Coronavirus Initiatives for Businesses, Residents

FREEHOLD, NJ — Most Monmouth County offices will be open to the public beginning today, July 6, but by appointment only — and with social distancing and face coverings required.

The County Clerk’s Election Office is one of the few departments not requiring an appointment, as hand deliveries, including those for tomorrow's primary election, and in-person services are being offered on a walk-in basis, during normal business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 300 Halls Mill Road in Freehold. Click here for more information on the July 7 primary election, which is primarily being conducted through mail-in voting due to the coronavirus crisis. 

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“We’re taking another leap,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone, announcing the reopening of offices during the county’s 12th coronavirus-related press conference on July 1. “Monmouth County has taken an initiative where we’re slowly but moving forward on progress that’s been safe in most cases. If we see a glitch, we stop, reassign and redirect. This is the direction we have taken.”

Arnone credited residents in Monmouth County for flattening the COVID-19 curve, as the number of positive cases and deaths continue to decline on a daily average basis. “It’s not because of the freeholders or mayors. They may be the cheerleaders but it’s been because of the residents here in Monmouth County, and we have to continue that,” he said. “A lot of things still need to move forward. The goal is to not to turn a blind eye and take a look at what has to be addressed. And move forward and do it.”

Arnone specifically addressed Gov. Phil Murphy’s abrupt reversal on June 29 to not allow limited indoor dining at food and drink establishments to begin on July 2. The governor blamed crowds at outdoor bars and restaurants in New Jersey— with people not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing — and COVID-19 spikes in other states that returned to indoor dining as reasons for postponing the return of indoor dining indefinitely.

READ MORE: NEWS ALERT: Gov. Murphy Indefinitely Stalls July 2 Restart of Indoor Dining

Arnone called Murphy’s decision “somewhat sad and worrisome,” since an entire industry that worked so hard to get ready for indoor dining was being targeted for the actions of a few. “There are rule breakers every day in society, but the whole broad span cannot be punished for a few bad apples. In some cases, we have to look at isolated incidents,” he said, referring to the younger crowds that triggered much of the rule breaking.

Arnone also spoke about the allocation of federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding to administer grants of up to $10,000 to businesses with no more than 50 employees.

“We are looking to partner with an organization that will handle the entirety of the grant process, which we expect to be an entirely online application process to efficiently handle the grant applications,” he said. “Businesses should start to put together their receipts for expenses they have incurred because of the pandemic, including rental expenses and utility expenses. Having your paperwork prepared will give you a head start when the process begins.”

READ MORE: Monmouth County to Provide Small Businesses with $10 Million in CARES Act Funding

During the press conference, Freeholder Deputy Director Susan Kiley announced the launch of the Financial Recovery Initiative (FRI) to help support the financial needs of Monmouth County residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Established through Monmouth ACTS (Assisting Community Through Services) and its Financial Empowerment Hub, the initiative includes a clearinghouse that will provide residents with access to information about public-private programs and benefits that are available through its anchor organizations.

“Residents have been hit hard by COVID-19 - from loss of employment and income to food insecurity and more,” said Kiley, liaison to the county’s health and human services departments. “We’re also seeing a whole new group of residents who have traditionally been self sufficient but now find themselves in need of public resources, guidance and support. FRIis designed to help residents on their path to financial recovery — by providing clear, consistent and timely information and easy access to services and resources.”

Although details of FRI are in development, core service areas will include: employment, entitlement benefits, financial coaching, food/nutrition and child care. As a task force of Monmouth County leaders from the government and private sector begins its work, aspects of FRI are expected to get under way sometime in July, according to a press release.

For more Monmouth County news updates and information regarding COVID-19, visit www.visitmonmouth.com. For more information about the clerk’s reopening and services, visit its website at MonmouthCountyClerk.com.

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