MORRIS COUNTY — Gov. Murphy’s added restrictions for restaurants statewide is an unwise shotgun approach that will add to the burden of an important business sector that contributes tremendously to the state economy, said Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R- Morris, Essex Passaic).
Murphy’s latest edict in reaction to an uptick in Covid-19 cases requires virtually all restaurants to erect plexiglass barriers around dining tables that are less than six feet apart – and greater restrictions on bar areas. DeCroce says the cost of those barriers is prohibitive for many small restaurants that are barely making ends meet now.
“Another blanket and costly regulation for restaurant owners is not the appropriate response to the Covid-19 virus; especially with the cold winter months approaching. The governor needs to use a scalpel, not a shotgun,” said DeCroce.
DeCroce said the state should use some of the federal Cares Act money to help restaurants pay the costs of the barriers and new regulations. ‘With the capacity limits already in place on bars and restaurants, the burden placed on business owners to finance more state-imposed regulations is prohibitive.”
CONCENTRATE ON HOT SPOTS
The assemblywoman noted that the vast majority of coronavirus cases are concentrated in six-counties. She said the governor’s new order should be implemented where the virus cases are the highest and see if the order succeeds in lowering the rate of infection.
DeCroce noted that Essex, Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Passaic, and Union counties all have in excess of 20,000 cases. Morris County has had half that number of cases, while Sussex County and other western counties along with the state’s most southern county — Cape May – have fewer than 2,000 Covid-19 cases.
“We need to work with all the facts and with the emerging science and consider the economic impacts of what the state is proposing,” said the Assemblywoman. The restaurant industry affects more than 348,000 jobs in New Jersey, according to the National Restaurant Association.
DeCroce noted that Dr. Anthony Fauci told the American Medical Association today that SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and various new treatments for COVID-19 may be on their way even before 2020 ends. Stocks hit all-time highs Monday after Pfizer and BioNTech announced that a vaccine candidate has a more than 90% effectiveness rate preventing COVID-19. “The governor’s office should take note of these developments,” said DeCroce
SEND BUSINESS A LIFELINE
DeCroce added that the governor should immediately release $450 million of federal CARES Act funds to support small businesses in New Jersey and not use the money to prop up the state budget.
“Through no fault of their own, many small businesses were forced to close their doors or curtail their business. If there is federal money to help those businesses that are hanging on, the state has an obligation to help them,” said DeCroce.
“The governor should be throwing small businesses a lifeline, not an anchor,” she added.
“State officials need to start thinking about what our community landscape is going to look like, and what our state economy is going to look like when we pull out of the pandemic. We don’t want to leave behind a barren wasteland of closed businesses and broken dreams,” said DeCroce.