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The state Senate voted unanimously Thursday to approve a bill that directs the governor to implement county-based plans for safely reopening businesses, instead of the statewide, one-size-fits-all executive orders used since the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Jersey last March.

S-3093, sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal (D-11), would require a color-categorized (red, yellow, green) mitigation plan based on local conditions and data. Decisions affecting business  operations in specific areas would correlate to the spread of  COVID-19 in that particular county.

“This scalpel approach for safe reopenings has worked effectively in our neighboring states and it will enable counties that have fewer COVID-19 cases to avoid the restrictions imposed in places where case numbers are dramatically higher,” said NJBIA Vice President of Governnent Affairs Christopher Emigholz. 

The color-coded reopening system will allow counties to make choices based on data and gives at least some businesses what they desperately need – a chance to survive,” Emigholz said.  

The legislation is also important because it provides transparency to the public health restrictions, and that will bring better predictability and planning, which are critical to running a business, Emigholz said.

New Jersey ended 2020 with 31.4% fewer small businesses open than it started with, Emigholz said.  Quick action by the Legislature and Governor Murphy can help save the livelihoods of morebusiness owners, as well as the jobs of the workers they employ, he said.

We respectfully ask the Assembly to move this bill as quickly as possible to open the economy where it is geographically appropriate,” Emigholz said.