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New Jersey Governor

New Jersey Governor Phill Murphy projected winner of second term, first in 44 years to be re-elected

Gov. Phil Murphy , a former executive at Goldman Sachs, became the projected winner of the governor’s race in New Jersey. He is the first Democrat to win reelection in the Garden State in 44 years. The last to do so was Brendan Byrne, in 1977. Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican and former assembly member, has not conceded yet.

For a while, Murphy was ahead in polls by double-digits, and while those numbers dwindled recently, most surveys continued to show Murphy up anywhere from 4 to 11 percentage points. Many were not expecting the close race we were seeing as results continued to come in. 

NJ residents divided over state issues and pandemic response

Throughout the campaign, popular issues of focus were the pandemic, taxation, and the state’s economy. Republican residents have pushed back against Murphy’s increasingly liberal policies, with the governor losing the favor of many residents during the pandemic for his strict mandates. 

As the race continued, the response to COVID-19 became the defining issue. Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Murphy was adamant about stopping the spread of the virus in the state. He was one of the last governors to repeal the mask mandate for the state and among the first to require teachers to be vaccinated or submit to regular testing, The New York Times reported. 

With the virus also disrupting the state’s economy and impacting small businesses, The Murphy Administration put programs and resources in place to help businesses recover financially. 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, right, watches as Maritza Beniquez, RN, reacts after receiving a vaccination for COVID-19 at University Hospital in Newark, NJ. Beniquez was the first person in New Jersey to receive the vaccination. (Photo credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times)

Ciattarelli, however, disagreed with Murphy’s pandemic response. Gaining the support of anti-vax voters, Ciattarelli opposed the COVID-19 vaccine mandate and mandatory masking in schools. Additionally he believed early lockdown orders were responsible for hurting the state’s small businesses. 

Ciattarelli was able to win over four counties that had previously voted for Murphy: Atlantic, Cumberland, Gloucester and Somerset.

However, Murphy continued to carry cities and counties with larger urban populations, as his liberal policies throughout his first term worked to benefit urban and minority communities. Additionally, the number of registered Democrats currently outnumber Republicans by more than 1 million in New Jersey, giving Murphy another advantage. 

Still, the divisive issues made this election an unexpectedly close race.

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As it became clear that results would not be in last night, both candidates made their speeches to their supporters. 

“We’re gonna have to wait a little while longer than we hoped,” said Murphy, speaking at the Asbury Park Convention Hall, just after midnight. “We’re gonna wait for every vote to be counted. That’s how our democracy works.”

“We’re all sorry that tonight could not yet be the celebration that we wanted it to be,” Murphy continued. “But as I said: When every vote is counted — and every vote will be counted — we hope to have a celebration again.”

 

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In Bridgewater, Ciattarelli addressed his gathered supporters. “I wanted to come out here tonight because I prepared one hell of a victory speech,” he said. “I wanted to come out here tonight because we won. But I’m here to tell you that we’re winning.”

Phil Murphy built his campaign around progressive measures he signed into law, such as an increase to $15 an hour minimum wage, paid sick leave along with taxes on the wealthy, access to child care for all, and the multiple subsidies to small businesses that suffered during the Covid-29 pandemic. He also brought on Democratic allies, including Senator Bernie Sanders, to campaign for him.

Non-essential businesses reopening

Non-essential businesses reopening starts cautiously in NJ

NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Orders allowing outdoor dining and indoor non-essential businesses reopening including retail personal care service facilities, dining outdoors, hair salons and barber shops to reopen to the public provided the facilities comply with standards issued by the Division of Consumer Affairs and Department of Health.

“We’re able to confidently announce this important step in our restart and recovery because the health metrics tell us we can,” said Governor Murphy. “With the proper health and safety protocols in place, personal care business owners who are anxious get back to serving their customers and communities will have the opportunity to do so.”

Non-essential businesses reopening

Governor Phil Murphy holds his daily press briefing on Monday, in the George Washington Ballroom in the Trenton War Memorial with Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, Ed Lifshitz, medical director for the state Department of Health‘s Communicable Disease Service,, and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan. (Pool photo by Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) Jun. 1, 2020.

Non-essential businesses reopening confidence shows mixed concerns

Many business owners have insisted in re-opening their facilities due to a dooming economic horizon. However, the Administration also recently released results of an online survey conducted in conjunction with Rutgers University’s Heldrich Center for Workforce Development earlier this month that drew responses from nearly 4,000 businesses and non-profits across the state.

Results of the survey demonstrate overwhelmingly that while the business and non-profit community is eager to get back to work, owners understand and take seriously the public health risks posed by COVID-19 and the responsibility to provide a safe experience for employees and customers.  Many are worried about the effect of non-essential businesses reopening causing a possible second wave of the virus.

“This survey verified much of what we anticipated as we began the process of restarting the economy,” said Governor Phil Murphy.  “While business owners are eager to get back to work and get their operations back up and running, they remain concerned about consumer and employee confidence and are eager to avoid a second wave of this insidious virus.”

A majority of owners (51%) cited consumer confidence as the most pressing issue, while 13% cited access to personal protective equipment as their biggest concern.  Approximately one in 10 said employee confidence would present the biggest challenge to reopening while four in 10 listed employee confidence as one obstacle but not the most pressing one.

Non-essential businesses reopening

(Photo credit Guilherme Petri – Unsplash)

Special standards for special businesses

The Order further directs the Commissioner of the DOH to issue health and safety standards for use by tattoo parlors, tanning salons and other locations in which personal care services are offered by individuals who are not acting within the scope of a license issued by a professional board within the Division of Consumer Affairs.

Nothing in the Order shall prevent the provision of services to a person that is confined to their home and unable to travel due to a disability, if these services 1) are permitted under existing statutes and regulations and 2) are provided in a manner that substantially complies with standards issued by the Division of Consumer Affairs and DOH.  DOH issued an Executive Directive today that includes comprehensive health and safety standards for these locations.

Cosmetology schools or other places that provide instruction and training for personal care services shall remain closed at this time.

Non-essential businesses reopening

(Photo credit Jason Leung – Unsplashed)

Non-essential businesses reopening main concerns

Survey respondents want state government help to reopen safely, particularly guidance on reopening restrictions (60%), guidance on safety measures to keep employees and customers safe (49%), and help in acquiring disinfecting and cleaning products (42%).

The majority of respondents (54%) will rely on state/local government and Department of Health guidelines—greater than those who will rely on Centers for Disease Control (23%) and industry and association guidelines (14%).

Customer-facing businesses report that limiting occupancy or reducing capacity of their facilities will be the most difficult challenge.

 

The schedule provided by the State is as follows:

  • Outdoor dining (beginning on June 15th)
  • Limited in-person retail (beginning on June 15th)
  • Hair salons and barber shops (beginning on June 22nd)
  • Youth summer programs (beginning on July 6th)
  • In-person clinical research/labs
  • Limited fitness/gyms
  • Limited in-person government services (e.g. – Motor Vehicle Commission)
  • Museums/libraries

All workers who can work from home should continue to work from home.

Additional instructions for non-essential businesses reopening

Under the Governor’s Executive Order, personal care service facilities include:

  1. Cosmetology shops;
  2. Barber shops;
  3. Beauty salons;
  4. Hair braiding shops;
  5. Nail salons;
  6. Electrology facilities;
  7. Spas, including day spas and medical spas, at which solely elective and cosmetic medical procedures are performed;
  8. Massage parlors;
  9. Tanning salons; and
  10. Tattoo parlors.
Health and safety standards for personal care services

The Division of Consumer Affairs issued an Administrative Order that includes comprehensive health and safety standards that personal care services that are licensees of the New Jersey State Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling and the New Jersey Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy must abide by.

Non-essential businesses reopening

(Photo credit Kseniia Ilinykh – Unsplash)

Safeguards include:

  1. Limiting services to appointment-only;
  2. Performing health screening, including temperature checks, on clients and staff prior to entry to the facility;
  3. Requiring use of personal protective equipment, and requiring clients to wear face coverings at all times, regardless of the service they are receiving, unless face down on a massage table or where doing so would inhibit an individual’s health;
  4. Ensuring that all staff-client pairs maintain at least six feet distance between other staff-client pairs, unless separated by physical barriers;
  5. Adopting enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices; and
  6. Staying informed about new developments and guidance related to COVID-19

Precautions that apply across all stages include:

  • Clinically high-risk individuals who can stay at home should continue to do so.
  • All residents and businesses should follow state and federal safeguarding guidelines:
    • Wash hands
    • Wear masks in public
    • Respect social distancing
    • Minimize gatherings
    • Disinfect workplace and businesses
    • Minimize gatherings
    • No mass gatherings

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New Jersey will move toward subsequent stages based on data that demonstrates improvements in public health and the capacity to safeguard the public, including:

  • Sustained improvements in public health indicators, including new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, individuals in intensive care, and ventilator use;
  • Substantial increase in testing and contact tracing capacity;
  • Sufficient resilience in New Jersey’s health care system to include adequate bed capacity, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and workforce;
  • Widespread safeguarding of workplaces;
  • Widespread safeguarding and capacity of child care, schools, and mass transit;
  • Continued public compliance.

If public health indicators, safeguarding, or compliance worsen on a sustained basis, New Jersey will be prepared to move back non-essential businesses reopening to more restrictive stages as well.