Governor Murphy Announces Measured Plan To Reopen New Jersey’s Economy
Today, Governor Phil Murphy announced his plan, “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health,” to restart the New Jersey economy strategically and responsibly, stressing that he wants to ensure public health protocols are in place before the State begins to reopen sectors of the economy, including in-person automotive retail.The Governor’s stay-at-home order, in effect since March 21st, will remain in place until further notice. There are no firm dates linked to the various elements of the plan announced today. It outlines six key principles and metrics, including four initial health-related elements that will need to be put in place, that will guide the Administration’s decision-making process for methodically lifting the current lockdown restrictions:Principle 1: Demonstrate Sustained Reductions in New COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
- 14-day trend lines showing a sustained drop in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics reflecting a decreasing burden of disease;
- Hospitals stepping down from functioning under crisis standards of care.
- At least double current diagnostic testing capacity;
- Prioritize testing for health care workers, essential personnel, and vulnerable populations;
- Create a flexible testing plan accessible to all residents;
- Expand partnerships with institutions of higher education, private-sector labs, and the federal government;
- Ensure that those who test positive are linked to a health care provider.
- Recruit and deploy an army of personnel who will identify and follow-up with contacts;
- Leverage technological data and innovative solutions to increase efficiency;
- Coordinate the approach of local and state health officials, which will have a coordinated county/regional component.
- To the greatest extent possible, provide individuals who do test positive in the future with a safe and free place to isolate and protect others from COVID-19;
- Ensure that quarantined contacts are provided supportive services, if needed.
- Create the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission to advise on the process and recommend responsible and equitable decisions;
- Plan for a methodical and strategic return to work based on level of disease transmission risk and essential classification;
- Continuation of social distancing measures, requirements for face coverings, and work-from-home directions where feasible and appropriate;
- Leverage any available federal funds and programs to support health care, individual, and small business recoveries.
- Learn from the lessons of COVID-19 and prepare for the possibility of a resurgence;
- Ensure hospitals, health care systems, and other health delivery facilities have inventories of personal protective equipment and ventilators;
- Build our own state personal protective equipment and ventilator stockpile;
- Create a playbook for future administrations for the next pandemic.
NJ CAR Asks Governor to Allow Dealerships to Reopen Showrooms “By Appointment”
NJ CAR, last week, formally asked the Governor to permit the limited reopening of dealership showrooms to conduct “by appointment only” sales activity in accordance with the strict health and safety requirements of Executive Order 122.
Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 122 requires dealers to conduct all sales activity remotely or online. This accommodation has allowed dealers to assist some New Jersey consumers in need of a replacement vehicle, but motor vehicle sales are down 70 to 80 percent statewide. NJ CAR estimates that the State is losing approximately $4.5 million per day — $27 million per week — in sales tax revenue and motor vehicle fees ordinarily collected by dealerships on the sale of new and used motor vehicles.
As the Governor’s Office and the Multi-State Council to Get People Back to Work and Restore the Economy begin to consider options to cautiously ramp up commerce, again, neighborhood new car and truck dealers in New Jersey and throughout the northeast are proposing a phased opening that will protect the health and safety of consumers and dealership employees, alike. Specifically, NJ CAR urges the Administration to consider allowing dealership showrooms to reopen “by appointment only” in order to give consumers the opportunity to shop safely, to test drive vehicles safely and to help jump-start the economic recovery. New car dealers in Connecticut and a few other states are already operating this way.
This “by appointment-only” sales arrangement is manageable because average monthly foot traffic is low and the typical new car dealership’s showroom is unlike any other retail environment. The physical space required to display new cars and trucks is significantly greater than the space commonly used to display electronics, clothing, or office supplies. The typical new car showroom in New Jersey is 7,500 square feet or more, which ensures ample space for social distancing between employees and customers.
Permitting dealers to reopen showrooms by appointment only would mean that they must still comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in Executive Order 122. And, since dealership service departments have remained open since the onset of the pandemic, dealers could quickly and easily extend compliance to showrooms with limited access and “by appointments only” sales.
Governor Murphy’s recently announced “Road Back” plan will place a priority on reopening businesses that are both essential and low risk. Dealership sales and service have been designated as “essential’ under both State and federal COVID-19 protocols and NJ CAR’s proposed “by appointment only” sales strategy eliminates any potential risk to the public.
While NJ CAR will press for early adoption of the plan, we cannot say when or if such a plan will be implemented. In the meantime, dealers must continue to conduct all sales activities remotely or online, utilizing contactless delivery curbside, at the dealership service lane or direct to a consumer’s home.
Small Business Stimulus Update
Now that the latest coronavirus-related stimulus package has been signed into law, the race is on once again for small businesses in search of relief. The latest bill provides an additional $370 billion for companies with fewer than 500 employees- $310 billion for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program and $60 billion for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The additional funds are not expected to last very long, due to a high level of the expected interest (and need).
The SBA began accepting new loan applications at 10:30 this morning. If a business has previously applied through a lender and been approved, they should contact the lender for an update.