TRENTON - Senator Christopher Connors, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove issued the following statement regarding New Jersey’s economic future in meeting the challenges created by COVID-19:“New Jersey needs to expedite the process of reopening the state.
“The responsibility to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is in all of our hands. Americans understand the threat posed by this disease after having COVID-19 dominate their lives for nearly two months. They can be and must be trusted to conduct themselves accordingly.
“The present course is economically unsustainable. Businesses that could be reopened are coming close to going under completely. Individuals on unemployment, if they have had their claims processed, won’t have jobs to go back to if the present course holds. Government entitlement programs, such as unemployment insurance, can only last so long before the system collapses under its own weight.
“At the outset, our delegation supported an extremely cautious response to the coronavirus, and for good reason. A large segment of our constituency is comprised of senior citizens, thought to be among the most vulnerable if infected by the disease. Throughout the state of emergency, we’ve provided e-mail updates to constituents so that they could be better informed about COVID-19 and the government response. This information, we believe, has better prepared our constituents for the state reopening process.
“Reopening New Jersey will require adherence to social distancing directives as well as strict cleaning policies which are absolutely necessary to protect our most vulnerable citizens. If infection rates increase, it is possible that restrictions on business operations and social gatherings would need to be reinstituted.
“Businesses should be afforded the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they can reopen safely. They have no choice but to adapt. Consumers will ultimately decide if a business can safely operate by virtue of their shopping habits. Businesses should be given a fighting chance to survive now that we all have a better understanding of this disease and responsible behavior and practices in this new environment..
“There is simply too much at stake for the reopening process not to be expedited. Many businesses that have been ordered to close can maintain social distancing just as easily as liquor stores, which have remained open during the duration of the crisis. Unquestionably, there is a tremendous need to allow for elective surgeries to resume immediately. Locking just about everything down and hoping for the best is not a viable plan to restart the economy.
“Churches and funeral homes should also be given more latitude under the Governor’s executive orders. These respected entities have a firm understanding of the severity of the current situation based on the services they provide and, therefore, should be trusted to take necessary precautions to prevent any spread of the virus. Individuals could take solace in praying with others, even if in small groups, and should have the ability to pay their final respects to loved ones when they pass. With social distancing guidelines strictly observed, church services and funeral processions could help individuals to cope with the mounting hardships we all have been forced to endure.
“As Americans, we should all be thinking more broadly about the very serious national security concerns at hand. America is made vulnerable by a weakened economy that cannot afford a strong military. This would only embolden our enemies and endanger our allies.
“Reopening the state must be re-approached and advanced as a priority, not viewed as a distant eventuality. Again, too much is at stake. Our delegation stands ready to work with businesses and fellow elected officials to achieve the progress in getting New Jerseyans back to living that is so desperately needed.”