Along with every individual and business, NJ CAR is also navigating its way through the COVID-19 crisis and is working to determine the impact State and federal actions will have on our dealer members. This is a constantly moving target and we will forward communications on a regular basis as information changes or new information becomes available.
New Jersey Update
Governor Murphy 12:00 Press Conference
During Governor Murphy’s press conference this afternoon, he announced the additional closures of personal care facilities (barbers, nail salons, etc.) that are unable to meet the CDC health and social distancing guidelines.
Importantly, the Governor did not announce the closure of dealerships. However, he did not go the extra step, yet, to recognize them as an “essential” business.
Dealers, therefore, must comply with all State guidelines for hours of operation (5 AM – 8 PM), number of people in a facility (<50) and social distancing (6 feet between individuals). The Governor specifically said he would meet with the Attorney General and law enforcement tomorrow and promised aggressive enforcement. He reserved the right to announce more closures in the future.
The Governor also announced a variety of changes to the election process in the near-term and said the Senate was in session today to review dozens of bills passed by the Assembly earlier this week.
NJ CAR Urges Governor Murphy To Classify Dealerships As “Essential”
NJ CAR has sent a Letter to Governor Murphy, urging him to classify car dealerships as “essential” services. The arguments for repair and service departments at dealerships are clear, although we believe sales are essential as well. We emphasized the economic benefits of our industry, as well as the fact that doctors, healthcare workers, first responders and others who are critical during this crisis, will still need reliable personal transportation. Lease-ends, accidents, breakdowns and other issues will also create the need for people to buy or lease a new or used vehicle.
And dealerships are already set up to conduct much of the vehicle sales process in a virtual environment over the phone and through e-mails and texts. Dealerships are adjusting their business practices to best serve their customers and conform to the CDC social distancing standards– conducting business on-line and arranging for test drives, service pick-ups and vehicle deliveries at people’s homes and offices or by appointment at the dealership, in order to limit person-to-person contact.
We will keep dealers informed of any developments.
Assembly Passes Dozens Of Coronavirus-Related Bills
The state Assembly passed dozens of coronavirus-related bills earlier this week that will soon be taken up for a vote in the Senate.
Below is a recap of the bills that impact dealerships:
A3845: Expands Economic Development Authority small business loan program to include small businesses negatively affected by certain epidemics.
A3864: Authorizes notaries public to perform certain notarial acts remotely.
A3841: Extends time to file gross income tax or corporation business tax return by one month.
A3844: Concerns business interruption insurance during the coronavirus disease 2019 state of emergency.
A3846: Creates “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program” to allow persons to claim for lost wages due to the coronavirus disease 2019.
A3848: Concerns time off from work in connection with infectious disease.
There is talk of a possible sales tax deferral for businesses that collect and remit Sales Tax, as this is an immediate way to insert liquidity into the small business market.
There is also talk of a Sales Tax Holiday for the months of May and June.
Governor Murphy Seeks Federal Block Grants To Help New Jersey
Governor Phil Murphy is working with New Jersey’s congressional delegation to seek billions of dollars in federal block grants to give the state flexibility to deploy money where and when it’s needed. The financial strain on state government is tremendous and is likely to erase the state’s projected $1.5 billion surplus.
Closing bars, restaurants, casinos, movie theaters, gyms, malls and more will dramatically increase the number of people seeking unemployment and have a severe impact on state’s budget and previously anticipated revenues.
Governor Murphy has also asked the federal government to lower the eligibility threshold for consumer assistance programs, like SNAP, and to allow for more flexibility in how assistance can be utilized to pay for necessities.
Planned Retail Shutdown In Bergen County Canceled
In a huge win for NJ CAR and New Jersey’s Bergen County dealerships, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco has rescinded his executive order that would have implemented a near-total shutdown of retail activity in the county.
In response to a grassroots campaign initiated by NJ CAR yesterday morning, nearly 300 emails were sent from Bergen County dealers and their employees in a matter of hours, emphasizing how essential dealerships are public safety.
The order was set to go into effect Saturday, March 21, but Tedesco withdrew it today.
NADA Asks President Trump To Declare Dealerships “Essential”
Echoing, NJ CAR’s efforts on the State level, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has sent a letter to President Trump asking him to declare car and truck dealership sales, service and parts operations as essential operations to ensure that dealerships can remain open (if they choose), even as State and local governments close businesses considered “nonessential.”
“Phase 2” Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Passes Congress & Is Signed By President Trump
This morning, President Trump signed H.R. 6201 (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) into law. H.R. 6201 covers a wide range of topics, several of which are important to private employers. The bill would make three important changes impacting employers by establishing:
- A new qualifying reason for family and medical leave;
- an employer requirement to provide paid sick leave; and
- refundable tax credits to employers for the qualified paid sick and family leave wages.
- While lawmakers had discussed potential payroll tax cuts, as well as an extension to standard filing deadlines for federal tax returns, H.R. 6201 did not ultimately address those issues. Click HERE to review a detailed analysis of the bill provided by NADA
“Phase 3” Stimulus Is Taking Form In The Senate
Nothing is set in stone, but discussions have begun around a variety of potential stimulus options that could top $1 trillion.
As of right now, Senate Republicans are working with the White House on the initial draft of a big-ticket stimulus proposal before inviting Senate Democrats into the process. It is not known when a finalized draft will be released for consideration.
In addition to getting as much as $500 billion directly into the hands of many individual consumers, there is discussion about several other potential ways to stimulate the economy and keep businesses afloat. The White House has said it wants $50 billion for the airline industry, while various other industries are also eager for federal money.
Legislators are likewise concerned about the impact of the crisis on small businesses, particularly those that have been forced to close by state and local governments.