Says with Summer Season Approaching, Time is Running Out for Local Shops
Senator Michael Testa, in a press conference to highlight the plight of small businesses in New Jersey, said “with summer around the corner, we are sounding the alarm.” If small shop owners can’t reopen soon, many may be lost forever, he warned.
At a press conference at COHO Brewing Company in Cape May Courthouse, Sen. Testa emphasized the necessity for the state to allow Shore businesses to open for the summer season. Click for full size. (SenateNJ.com)
“Small shops and eateries are locked up tight. Most establishments down the shore are family-owned, multi-generational businesses,” said Testa (R-1). “Many of these are capable and willing to reopen while abiding by CDC guidelines, but as the shutdown goes on, it has the potential to have a multi-year impact that devastates the shore economy.”
Testa was joined at the press conference by LD-1 colleagues Assemblymen Erik Simonsen and Antwan McClellan, Middle Township mayor Timothy Donohue, and small-business owner Karen Buckingham from Coho Brewery.
“South Jersey families and businesses are hurting and we must safely get people back to work,” said United States Congressman Jeff Van Drew, who was unable to attend but lent his support. “Feeding your family is the most essential thing anyone can do. We can implement the proper protocols to keep everyone safe while also balancing the need to expand what is working to get people back in their jobs.”
Testa criticized the Murphy Administration’s lack of any concrete plans to loosen shutdown orders and allow small businesses to operate.
“Big Box stores like Home Depot and Walmart are open for business. Dozens and dozens of people can walk in, cruise the aisles, fill their carts, and check out, yet small retailers, the mom and pop businesses that are the very lifeblood of our local economies are prevented from opening their doors to sell the same items,” said Testa (R-1).
Attendants of the press conference, which included local residents and small business owners who support reopening, followed social distancing guidelines. Click for full size. (SenateNJ.com)
Cape May County generates more $6 billion in direct tourism revenue annually, and more than $500 million per year in state sales tax and local use taxes annually. The numbers come to almost $1.5 million per day, and represent more than 10 percent of the statewide total.
“No one knows Cape May County better than the people who live in Cape May County,” added Assemblyman Simonsen. “We trust our local businesses and no matter how we move forward we are going to have to trust our small businesses. The Governor should trust the small Shore businesses the same way the Governor is trusting our big businesses to carry out guidelines to keep ensure the safety of their customers.”
Due to the pandemic and the state’s restrictions, the locally owned COHO beer company in Cape May Courthouse has been shut down for 2 ½ months, laid off its employees, and now faces a precarious future.
Assemblyman Antwan McClellan implored the Governor to ‘Trust us, trust the businesses, trust the people.’ Click for full size. (SenateNJ.com)
“We need to have faith over fear right now,” said Assemblyman McClellan. “Trust us, trust the businesses, trust the people and have the same faith in them that they have placed in us to represent them.”
Almost one quarter of Cape May County jobs are tourism-dependent. More than 26,000 residents work in retail, food service, and accommodations.
As the shutdown and strict travel and driving restrictions extends toward Day 55, Murphy’s daily briefings suggest there is no end in sight.
“We were originally told we had to follow the science to flatten the curve. What are we following now?” Testa asked. “This is no longer about what is essential and what is not. Small businesses and tourism businesses are being punished.”
Karen Buckingham, from COHO Brewery, described the hardships her small business is facing under the state lockdown. Click for full size. (SenateNJ.com)
This week, the Governor announced the extension of state’s public health emergency for another month.
“Murphy’s arbitrary and capricious notion to get the state back on track does nothing to help business owners and their employees who are desperate for a clear and concrete time line,” said Testa. “People need hope in this pandemic. Passing the buck for another 30 days provides no assurance for local entrepreneurs.”
Testa also criticized Murphy’s flawed reopening commission as “nothing more than a stall tactic.”
“Time is not on our side. We don’t need commissions, Governor. We need leadership and a clear vision. And right now, we are proceeding with blinders on. That is not acceptable.”
Click here to view a video of the press conference on Sen. Testa’s Facebook page.
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