The Political Keys to ‘Unlocking New Jersey’

With algae bloom closing the lake to swimmers, local office holders and candidates are trying to portray themselves as chief protectors of Lake Hopatcong, the state’s largest freshwater lake, going forward.

If you have an extra key lying around, why don’t you send it to the governor?

That’s the theatrical upshot of a group called “Unlock New Jersey,” which aims to do just that.

While so-called non-essential businesses can open today for curbside pick-up, that’s not good enough for some.

“If we wait any longer, there will be nothing left for our communities to reopen,” is how Joseph Falco Jr., the owner of Rose City Jewelers in Madison, put it.

Falco is joining with about 30 other mostly Morris County small business owners and local Republicans to urge Phil Murphy to reopen the state on a piecemeal and reasonable basis.

The political component here includes Assembly members BettyLou DeCroce and Brian Bergen, Morris Freeholder Stephen Shaw and Rosemary Becchi, the GOP congressional candidate in the 11th District.

As part of the “Unlock New Jersey” campaign, supporters are being asked to send keys –  either real or virtual – to the governor’s office in Trenton.

In a statement, the group says small business owners need help because they are already at a competitive disadvantage in regard to “big box” stores, some of which are allowed to open during the pandemic.

A petition to the governor sets forth a detailed and quite comprehensive reopening plan.

For instance, shops and malls where the virus has had the greatest impact should open to only 25 percent capacity and be gradually increased if the impact lessens. Capacity would be 50 percent in other
locales.

Restaurants would work the same way, but parts of the dining experience would be different. There would be no self-serving buffets, no condiments on the table and disposable or sanitized menus. There
also would be social distancing.

Last Wednesday, Murphy gave a “shout out” to Chester Borough Mayor Janet Hoven in trumpeting his plan for curbside pick-up. He said the mayor gave him good suggestions.

All well and good, but Unlock New Jersey’s statement says many small businesses need to open, albeit with restrictions. It says online orders and curbside pick-up is not practical for many mom-and-pop
businesses – like those in Chester Borough.

It’s not a bad point. After all, it’s tough to browse for antiques from the street.

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