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NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka told a Senate special committee today that urgency is needed in establishing guidelines for businesses in the state to reopen following its response to COVID-19.

Siekerka spoke remotely at the first meeting of the Senate Fiscal Recovery Strategists, a bipartisan group dedicated to working with the Murphy Administration and the Legislature to develop plans to restart New Jersey’s economy.

“More than 70% of our members have told us they are able to operate safely under CDC social distancing guidelines,” Siekerka said. “What we need now is to take the best practices that we have forwarded to our policymakers and immediately create prescriptive guidance for businesses in our state.

“This will give businesses and nonprofits the predictability and certainty they need to reopen. And part of that predictability and certainty also demands having metrics with specific targets, as our neighboring states like Pennsylvania and New York have done as part of their reopening plans.

“These targets may vary, given vertical and horizontal risks such as industry type, and the size, capacity and location of a facility; for example, as it relates to hot spots.  Different levels of risk should be recognized and addressed with different levels of mitigation. Not everyone should be held to the highest risk level, nor should every business need to wait for the most vulnerable region to hit a threshold target.  As such, a one size fits all process in not appropriate.”

Siekerka also said there are others essential actions to allow proper planning leading to a safe and sustainable reopening, including establishing access to PPE, flexibility relating to regulations and mandates, no new mandates that will incur additional costs or burdens on business, a good faith safe harbor from liability for employers who responsibly reopen and the opening of child care facilities and summer camps to facilitate the return of the workforce.

“Public health considerations and economic considerations are not mutually exclusive and must be appropriately balanced in order to ensure a safe and sustainable reopening,” Siekerka added.

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