Murphy Unveils Three-Stage State Reopening Strategy (Updated)

Governor Phil Murphy this afternoon walked through the three stages of reopening New Jersey as the state anticipates the new normal of laboring and living amid an ongoing pandemic, with no vaccine or proven cure in sight.

“Our singular goal will be to prevent another attack by COVID-19,” Murphy said. “We will move forward. We are preparing for a responsible process.

“Until either a proven vaccine or proven therapeutics are in place, we cannot firmly enter the new normal,” the governor added. “If we begin to see a backslide in public health, we will have to begin to pull back on the reins of our restart.”

As the state enters each of three stages, businesses will reopen according to their risk level.

It won’t be everyone at once.

“These are groupings of staps we will take in a period of time,” said Murphy. “We will do so with public health firmly in mind and as cautiously as we must.”

At the height of the pandemic, we started at stage zero in as close as possible to full lockdown.

“Today [with the state having processed the deaths of 10,435 New Jerseyans], we find ourselves in a better place, because of the steps you took, folks. Now we find ourselves in Stage One – maximum protection while allowing more workers to get back on the job.”

Stage One includes reopened parks and beaches, with modifications.

Expanded outdoor activities is the essence of Stage One.

“The hardest nuts to crack are indoors, sedentary activies with limited ventilation,’ Murphy admitted.

Should the data continue to improve, New Jersey will next examine entering Stage Two, which presumably will include the opening of outdoor dining, expanded retail and maybe library and museum reopening.

The plan still relies heavily on social distancing, face coverings, proper sanitation, hand washing and hygiene, and a strong program of testing and contact tracing.

“Should we be successful [over the coming weeks] we can take our step toward Stage Two,” the governor explained. “We will not risk lives. I am anxious to get to Stage Two.”

From the Governor’s Office:

 As part of his vision, “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health,” Governor Phil Murphy today unveiled a multi-stage approach to execute a responsible and strategic economic restart to put New Jersey on the road back to recovery from COVID-19. The multi-stage blueprint, guided by the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission and complementary Advisory Councils, plans for a methodical and strategic reopening of businesses and activities based on level of disease transmission risk and essential classification.

“Through our combined efforts, we have flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases, and we are well-positioned to continue our restart and recovery process,” said Governor Murphy. “Our multi-stage approach uses science, data, and facts to determine which businesses and activities can reopen according to their risk level and challenges they face to safeguard public health. Additionally, we will be guided by our ability to protect against a new COVID-19 outbreak with expanded testing and contact tracing, and clear social distancing safeguards in place. We are currently in Stage 1, and we will aim to move through each stage quickly, but also judiciously, with the public health of our communities and all New Jerseyans in mind. We are also counting on all New Jerseyans to continue keeping themselves and their neighbors safe by wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, and limiting gatherings.”

Governor Murphy’s approach includes the following stages:

Maximum restrictions with most individuals staying at home and activity limited to essential tasks.

Permitted activities and businesses include:

  • Emergency health care
  • Essential construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Essential retail, including grocery stores and pharmacies

Restrictions relaxed on low-risk activities if appropriately safeguarded. New Jersey is currently in this stage.

Phased-in businesses may include:

  • Non-essential, but easiest to safeguard, work activities at physical locations if they meet safeguarding and modification guidelines. For example, non-essential construction with protections.
  • Some non-essential retail may open with significant modifications. For example, curbside pickup.
  • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home even if their industry is reopening. For example, an office manager for a construction company.

Phased-in activities include State and county parks, non-essential construction, curbside retail, drive-in activities, beaches, and elective surgeries. 

Restrictions are relaxed on additional activities that can be easily safeguarded.

Phased-in businesses may include:

  • More work activities are allowed at physical locations only if they adhere to safeguarding and modification guidelines. For example, work activities to be phased-in over the course of Stage 2 may include expanded retail, safeguarded restaurants with outdoor seating, limited personal care, and possibly indoor dining, museums, and libraries, all with significantly reduced capacity.
  • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home. For example, a buying manager for restaurants.
  • Some personal care services may be provided on a limited basis. 

Restrictions are relaxed on most activities with significant safeguarding.

Phased-in businesses include:

  • More work activities, including in-person meetings, are allowed at physical locations only if they can adhere to safeguarding guidelines and modifications. For example, work activities to be phased-in over the course of Stage 3 may include expanded dining, critical in-office work, limited entertainment, expanded personal care, and bars with limited capacity.
  • All workers who can work from home continue to work from home. For example, accounting office workers.
  • Personal care services may be provided on a more extended basis.

Precautions that apply across all stages include:

  • Work that can be done from home should continue to be done from home.
  • 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

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 transit.
  • Continued public compliance.

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

For a one-page summary of Governor Murphy’s multi-stage approach to restart New Jersey’s economy, click here.

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