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Stating that private businesses know better than government how to ensure the protection of the health of their customers and employees, Hunterdon County’s freeholders recently voted to refrain from interfering with private businesses’ operating hours. 

The Board of Chosen Freeholders’ approval of this county policy occurred at its Nov. 17 meeting in response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 195 delegating authority to counties and municipalities to regulate the operating hours of non-essential businesses after 8 p.m. Murphy’s order gives local governments the power to close nonessential businesses even earlier than the 10 p.m. statewide closing mandate.   

“I believe this is another area where the philosophy of this board diverges from the governor’s,” said Freeholder Board Director Shaun C. Van Doren in a statement after the vote. “We see private businesspeople as best positioned to make these decisions, not the government.”  

Freeholder John E. Lanza, who sponsored the resolution, said businesses know their customers and know they must market health safety right now.  

Those presently in operation in Hunterdon County already require customers and employees to wear masks, observe social distancing, and follow health mandates as directed by the state and county Departments of Health and the CDC,” Lanza said. “They don’t need the nanny state looking over their shoulder.” 

The resolution notes the Governor’s previous orders shutting down businesses throughout the state earlier in the year and restricting their reopening has resulted in the closing of many businesses, tens of thousands of lost jobs, and economic devastation across New Jersey. 

Lanza suggested the resolution be forwarded to the Warren and Sussex County freeholder boards to encourage a regional approach.  

NJBIA has consistently advocated for a more regional approach to COVID-19 government mandates instead of the one-size-fits-all approach that the Murphy administration has been using in the various executive orders that have been issued during the pandemic.