Gov. Murphy making ‘major announcement’ on NJ reopening
TRENTON — A "major" announcement on the state's reopening efforts amid the pandemic was teased by Gov. Phil Murphy on Sunday.
"As our key metrics improve and our vaccination progress continues, we’re ready to move forward," Murphy said on Twitter, ahead of a state briefing on Monday afternoon.
Sunday morning statistics showed 2.77 million New Jerseyans as fully vaccinated, as hospitalizations trended lower at 1,753 COVID-19 patients. The rate of transmission (Rt) as of Sunday was at 0.92, remaining below one for weeks now, as another indicator that the state has been on the path forward from COVID-19.
A growing number of state lawmakers, including some of Murphy's fellow democrats, have been calling for the state to reopen more fully and for the governor to put an end to his executive orders under the state of emergency declaration that's been renewed 14 times.
"I think the governor's done a very good job of managing the pandemic. It's a no-win situation. No matter what decision you make you're not going to make anyone happy. It's now time to start partnering with the administration, with the governor on legislative actions," State Senate President Steve Sweeney previously said to New Jersey 101.5 in late March.
Republicans in Trenton also have been critical of the ongoing limitations on businesses.
“Virtually every other states has moved faster than we have, again, with no negative health impacts,” Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, said at a legislative hearing in mid-March.
“We are well past the time to open up businesses 100% in the state of New Jersey,” Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, said at the same hearing.
More than 100 business associations last week delivered an open letter to the governor, asking for a comprehensive reopening plan with specific benchmarks and dates.
“After over a year of the pandemic restrictions, businesses continue to reel: the number of small businesses open as of March 22 was down 38.4% relative to January 2020,” according to the New Jersey Business Coalition in its letter, sent around the same time that Connecticut announced it would be removing remaining business restrictions as of May 19.
As of Sunday, indoor capacity at restaurants and other businesses remained capped at 50%, while bar-side seating has been prohibited.
With previous reporting by Michael Symons