Senator Troy Singleton (D-7), Deputy Assembly Speaker John Burzichelli (D-3) and Assemblymen John Armato (D-2) and Vincent Mazzeo (D-2) today called upon Governor Phil Murphy to immediately issue actionable plans with specific timetables for the reopening of Atlantic City and other regions of the state that have seen far fewer infections from COVID-19 than harder hit counties. Neighboring states have all begun implementing phased regional re-openings based on medical data, but New Jersey has yet to even announce the criteria by which such decisions will be made. Significantly, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania today announced all counties would be opening by June 5th, including the City of Philadelphia.
Senator Singleton stated, “As we start the unofficial beginning of summer, it is imperative that New Jersey leadership immediately presents a plan prioritizing the reopening of Atlantic City casinos and other regions of our state less impacted by COVID-19. Published reports on New Jersey’s medical data clearly indicate that it is possible for certain portions of our state to safely open. Neighboring states have followed a regional reopening strategy based upon that medical data. New Jersey should do the same and follow those best practices.”
“Yesterday’s catastrophic unemployment statistics only make this issue more urgent,” commented Assemblyman Burzichelli. “Atlantic City and other shore communities around Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth, Ocean and Salem counties, need the summer season to carry their families through the difficult off season and winter months. Unlike Las Vegas and other destinations, summer is the time to be open and safely welcome visitors. If we wait, Atlantic City and other similar summer destinations are at risk of not opening at all – not just being closed this summer, but never fully opening again. Hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families will be economically devastated and not able to recover if we don’t act quickly.”
As reported by the New York Times, 15 counties in New Jersey have roughly half the number of infections or fewer as New Jersey’s other counties and could be opened under a Phase 1 as has been done in neighboring states. They are:
- Cape May
Singleton continued, “We understand that these are unprecedented times and that safety must be our first and primary consideration. But it is possible to stay safe from the virus with proper precautions, while there is no way to protect against the coming economic destruction unless communities are allowed to begin re-opening. Communities across the state need clear guidance from New Jersey’s leaders on how and when they can move forward. Now is the time for the Governor to act in collaboration with the Legislature to get New Jersey residents back to work.”
In conclusion, Assemblymen Armato and Mazzeo said, “We call on the Governor to immediately, and with great specificity, move to reopen the regions of the state that have either recovered or seen less impact so we can salvage the summer. The alternative to action is economic destruction from which the state and region are likely never to recover.”