Dear Community,

One of the most hotly contested and debated questions during these unprecedented times is when to open New Jersey’s economy. Of course, there are a slew of differing opinions and suggestions offered, but one thing is certain, the longer this shutdown continues the harder it will be to recover and the pain inflicted on residents will only grow. Opening the economy can be done effectively and safely by taking common sense precautions which ensures that both economic recovery, as well as overall health remain an undivided focus.

For instance, the first thing that should be done is the lifting of the prohibition on construction projects. By its nature, many construction workers already use PPE and with proper distancing, can operate safely on just about any type of site.

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Next, small businesses initially deemed nonessential during the lockdown should be allowed to reopen immediately. These business owners know their operations better than anyone and should be given the opportunity to create a plan that meets with CDC Guidelines, allowing them to rehire workers and operate safely once again.

Retailers that deal in physical products can also take measures including spacing item displays, limiting the number of patrons, and arranging for curbside or remote pick-up much the way restaurants have already adapted. Businesses that are service oriented can also practice isolated meetings and staggered appointments.

Tourism and recreational trades should be given the ability to operate within those guidelines. Firing ranges, recreational fishing boats, watercraft and other sporting businesses are just some, that by their nature, need separation between patrons. A recent study has determined that sunlight and humidity kill the virus, so being outside  may actually be preferable to being in an enclosed area.  Outdoor activities should resume with social distancing measures in place. Of course, this would necessitate opening the parks and outdoor recreational facilities provided precautions are in place.

Clearly, we cannot allow this lockdown to go on indefinitely. We must use sound measures to ensure safety, while allowing businesses to operate as needed. Financial hardship, chronic unemployment, depression and social instability will eclipse the threat of this health emergency long after we are past it. The time to open up New Jersey, safely and effectively, begins now.



13th District, Assemblyman,

Gerry Scharfenberger, Ph.D.