FAIR LAWN, NJ - As state, county and local COVID-19 cases decrease, the borough's Economic Development Committee (EDC) is working with borough officials, both improvement districts and its chamber to position businesses for a healthy comeback. Re-opening date: June 15.
The borough currently has 173 positive cases of the COVID-19 virus, a 57% reduction from the high of 403 on April 28, according to Mayor Kurt Peluso who announced the numbers in his weekly message today. There have been 461 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19; 48 who have died, 26 of which were current residents and 22 were from long term care facilities.
Social distancing will continue to be encouraged, while masks are necessary to enter stores.
The EDC has undergone its own changes, with the executive director Maggie Peters stepping down to accept a job on the state level, and Abigail Katznelson, co-founder and partner at The Legacy Development Group, picking up the reigns as the new president. Steve Weinstein, the previous president and former Fair Lawn mayor, will remain on the committee. Former Fair Lawn mayor Joe Tedeschi resigned from the committee.
Isaac Kremer, who is beginning a relationship directly with the borough to include developing market-based strategies to transform the economy of the downtown area as he did in Metuchen, addressed the EDC at its June 3 Zoom meeting.
"We're working to fight for every job and every business today," Kremer said.
Immediately, Kremer said business survival is paramount, with the eventuality of growth. "We need to reach out and help each other."
Business expansion and development was met with "resistance and fear" at first in Metuchen, Kremer said. "But the community learned they can have development and do it in a sustainable way."
The EDC has developed design guidelines that trustee Amy Hummerstone said are "98% complete."
Kremer said the best approach in communities such as Fair Lawn is to advise businesses referring to guidelines and encourage them to "voluntarily to comply."
"We don't want to limit, we don't want to put up barriers," he said.
Mayor Peluso said the council was working on a plan that could allow for closing down streets, working hand-in-hand with businesses with a re-opening date of June 15.
Deputy Mayor Josh Reinitz called the re-opening an "evolving situation," and said temporarily easing regulations for outdoor seating, for example, could happen. "We're open to input from the community."
REOPENING UPDATES per the Fair Lawn Chamber of Commerce, state sources
June 15 – Outdoor Dining and Indoor Non-Essential Retail Allowed– Resumption of Childcare Services
– Limited In-Person Customer Service at Motor Vehicle Agencies
June 22 – Hair Salons and Barber Shops May Reopen
June 29 – Tentative behind-the-wheel road tests & issuing of new licenses and permits
July 6 – Youth Summer Programs
July 6 — In-Person graduations allowed
- Outdoor Dining Protocols and Process to Expand Premises for Liquor License Holders – Click Here
- NJ Division of Children and Families Safety Guidelines to Reopen Childcare Centers – Click Here
Meanwhile, in an effort to protect businesses on a state level, Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano of the 10th Legislative District have introduced a bill which would grant immunity to businesses against any claims stemming from COVID-19. The bill, S-2502/A-4189, protects restaurants, store owners, and other businesses from lawsuits filed by individuals who claim they were exposed to the virus at an establishment.
“As small businesses prepare to reopen, we believe owners can comply with safety regulations to a degree that warrants legal protection from both their patrons and their employees,” Senator Holzapfel said. “The fear of a lawsuit is the last thing a small business owner needs while they are trying to financially stay afloat.”
The bill provides immunity to businesses against claims for damage to individuals arising from exposure to the coronavirus at premises owned or operated by the employer. The immunity provided in the bill does not apply to "willful misconduct, reckless infliction of harm or the intentional infliction of harm," according to Senator Holzapfel's website.