New Jersey will open in stages. Here’s how Murphy sees it happening
Gov. Phil Murphy Monday laid out a multi-stage plan to reopen the state from the COVID-19 lockdown.
So far, we're still in Stage 1, and just barely
But during his daily coronavirus update in Trenton, Murphy said the Garden State has moved on from a maximum-restriction Stage 0, when everyone was told to stay home except for trips out to get food and other essential supplies.
He said Stage 1 allows forms of outdoor recreation, expanded construction, non-essential curbside pickup shopping, and in a few days, the reopening of the Jersey Shore and the resumption of elective surgery.
He said what we’re working to next, assuming COVID-19 hospital and sickness data continues moving in the right direction, is getting to Stage 2, when “we will be able to further reduce restrictions on other businesses, including allowing our restaurants to once again welcome diners, at least first and foremost to outdoor tables, and potentially to a limited number of indoor ones.”
He said Stage 2 will also include the reopening of other stores, including some personal care businesses and ultimately museums and libraries.
“But again, when we get to Stage 2, not everything will happen at once. We will continue to responsibly and deliberately give different sectors a green light in steps,” the governor said.
He stressed the examples he outlined in a series of graphics don't make up a complete list, but a representation of the types of businesses that may be affected as New Jersey moves into different stages.
The progression comes as hospital occupancy — and, in particular, ICU occupancy and ventilator use — continues to come down after a months-long effort to "flatten the curve" and slow down coronavirus spread.
The governor said in a coming Stage 3, "we can once again allow for shoppers enter downtown and main street storefronts, and for limited gatherings with appropriate safeguards.”
He said that could include higher-contact activities restarting in some capacity, possibly including bars and entertainment venues with limited capacity, but throughout all stages “ensuring proper hygiene, sanitation and social distancing will remain our top priorities.”
The governor didn't commit to a timeline for the progression, but told a reporter who asked for an estimate he hoped for more motion in the coming weeks.
After Stage 3, Murphy said, comes a "new normal" reality — one where most types of activities have resumed, but norms and standards have made us more cautious and mindful of the possibility to spread infection. He said by that point, we'll hopefully have an effective COVID-19 vaccine and life-saving treatments.
He said as more businesses reopen across Jersey, we recognize “the resumption of child care services will be vital, as our workers return to their traditional places of work.”
“We will aim to move through each stage as quickly as we can," Murphy said. "We won’t sit on this if we feel the data allows us to move forward, but we will do so with public health firmly in mind and as cautiously as we must.
He also said 25% of the state workforce currently working from home right now will likely continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
According to the governor's office, the multi-stage blueprint has been developed in conjunction with the work being done by the governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission and complementary Advisory Councils.