Residents itching to visit the New Jersey shore over the Memorial Day weekend can break out bathing suits and head to the beach.
Gov. Phil Murphy told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” he hopes to reopen gyms, barber shops and other nonessential businesses with limits in a few weeks, but did not provide a specific timeline.
“This is a delicate balance without question,” the Democratic governor told the network. “We’re as money ball as we can be and we say all the time that data determines dates.”
The state has allowed nonessential retailers to reopen for curbside pickup, and will allow beaches to open for Memorial Day weekend — but getting a haircut or getting in shape at the gym is still on hold.
“We chose to rip the Band-Aid off the economy, which has been extraordinarily painful for job loss, for small businesses, for many of our sectors,” Murphy told the network. “But the alternative was to let the virus go, or in this case open up too early, in which case I think it’s throwing gasoline on the fire, not just on the public health piece of this, but you also have a much deeper hole economically.”
With 10,747 coronavirus deaths as of May 21, New Jersey is second only to New York where there have been 28,540 fatalities, followed by Massachusetts with 6,006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 has infected nearly 151,000 people across New Jersey.
Murphy said indoor businesses where people interact are more complicated.
“Outside’s easier than inside, so the toughest nuts to crack are inside, no ventilation, sedentary,” the governor said. “That means indoor dining is going to be more complicated than outdoor dining.”
All states have reduced restrictions meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus and some nonessential businesses have reopened. But there doesn’t appear to be consensus.
As reported here on Monday, Georgia was the first state to welcome residents back to the gym. LA Fitness and other exercise facilities were forced to close in March amid the global coronavirus pandemic. LA Fitness has more than three dozen gyms in Greater Atlanta and plans to reopen on Friday (May 22).
But these decisions to open fitness centers have been controversial. There have been instances nationwide where gym owners have defied orders to close.
Last week, a Vermont judge granted the state a temporary restraining order against Club Fitness of Vermont owner Sean Manovill who opened his gym despite Gov. Phil Scott’s executive order to close gyms, the Burlington Free Press reported.
The ruling prohibits the gym from operating until the state allows it to open.
“I’m disappointed we have to go to court to seek compliance with the governor’s lawful executive order,” said Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan in a statement.