It’s no secret that the business community as a whole has been frustrated with Gov. Phil Murphy’s pace of reopening the economy. Earlier this week, the New Jersey Business Coalition laid out the reasons the governor should broaden the reopening, but it can only make recommendations; what opens when and under what conditions is determined by the governor’s office alone.
In making its case, the coalition touched on another important issue: predictability. At the beginning of the pandemic, the governor said decisions on what to close and what to open would be based on data and science. Yet many outside of government see the various reopening edicts as arbitrary.
“If the governor does not continue to reopen the economy now, he must present plans for three COVID-19 scenarios to allow better visibility for proper business planning,” the coalition stated in a letter to the governor. “Decisive action is needed immediately so businesses will know whether to plan for a further reopening now or a prolonged limit on their business, necessitating greater government support.”
More than five months after the emergency order, thousands of small businesses face permanent closure. Federal government loan programs, which were only marginally effective for New Jersey businesses to begin with, have dried up, and the state programs designed to help small business are oversubscribed.
In other words, the businesses that remain closed have no revenue coming in and no idea when, where or how they will be able to generate revenue in the future.
“While economic indicators showed signs of positivity in June, including businesses open and the revenues they were producing, the July numbers show a plateau, and in some cases a decline in economic activity,” the letter states. “This can only mean that our companies are NOT surviving and are being forced to close. Further, while national retail sales are up, New Jersey’s are lagging, making our state an outlier.”