BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Mayor Matthew Moench has spoken out in a call for Gov. Phil Murphy to re-open all indoor malls around New Jersey, as restrictions continue to ease.

With a number of businesses reopening, and restrictions being relaxed on the number of people who can gather inside and out, Moench said in a statement that he was dismayed the easing of restrictions for non-essential retail operations did not include the re-opening of indoor malls, including Bridgewater Commons.

“The Bridgewater Commons Mall is the cornerstone of the commercial sector in this community, and it employs hundreds of our residents and residents of surrounding municipalities,” he said. “In addition to the enormous local impact, Bridgewater Township will be unable to collect revenue associated with our profit sharing with the Bridgewater Commons, thus resulting in higher property taxes and more financial burdens on our residents.”

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A number of New Jersey mayors representing municipalities with large indoor mall operations banded together to request that Murphy allow malls to re-open as soon as possible under the stage 2 restart and recovery plan.

Mayors involved include Moench, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Mollwage, Paramus Mayor Rich LaBarbiera, Wayne Mayor Chris Vergano and Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac, all who have large indoor malls in their municipalities.

Stage two of the recovery plan calls for the re-opening of outdoor restaurants, bars and non-essential stores on June 15, plus hair salons and barber shops June 22, in addition to already announced openings like no-contact organized sports and daycare facilities, and youth day camps and municipal recreation operations.

Currently, stores with outdoor entrances at the mall are open for curbside pickup only.

Moench said the ripple effect of this inaction to open has been felt deeply, and, soon, re-opening may come too late.

“It is time to start trusting our business community to operate safely,” he said. “We demand action.”