Say Doing Away With Blanket Statewide Restrictions on Entire Industries Could Help Hundreds of Thousands of Unemployed New Jerseyans to Safely Get Back to Work
Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano (all R-10) said Governor Phil Murphy should provide businesses and other employers the same opportunity to make reopening decisions based on local conditions that he has granted to school districts that are planning for the fall.
Holzapfel, McGuckin & Catalano said Gov. Murphy should provide businesses and other employers the same opportunity to make reopening decisions based on local conditions that he has granted to school districts. (Pixabay)
“Governor Murphy has ruled with an iron fist since the beginning of the pandemic, insisting that only he should decide when it’s safe for various industries to reopen statewide,” said Holzapfel. “For the past five months, he’s flatly refused to allow local decision-making or to adopt a regional approach to mitigation efforts that could have allowed businesses, parks, and other public places to reopen sooner in areas experiencing little community spread of the coronavirus. Suddenly, however, the governor is saying schools can make local decisions on reopening, but not anyone else. That contradiction reeks of favoritism and undermines his administration’s claim to care about pursuing fairness in public policy.”
The governor had previously announced that schools statewide would offer in-person instruction this fall, with parents provided the option of enrolling their children in all-remote education. He reversed course last week and announced that individual school districts would be allowed to decide how, when, or if to reopen classrooms to students.
Given that opportunity to decide for themselves, school districts across New Jersey have responded by announcing a broad spectrum of plans to keep their school buildings closed, to reopen, or to delay reopening based on their individual capabilities and understanding of local concerns and conditions.
“We’ve heard Governor Murphy say a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for schools and education,” said McGuckin. “When we have the highest unemployment rate in the region, with many workplaces still closed after months despite little apparent risk, the governor should acknowledge that his blanket approach to restricting or closing other industries hasn’t worked either. Every venue and every employer, including restaurants and gyms, should have the same opportunity as schools to decide how to reopen based on their understanding of their ability to keep staff, customers, and visitors safe.”
While the Murphy Administration has held strictly to a statewide approach for everyone other than schools, regardless of local risk considerations, Pennsylvania has successfully employed a regional strategy that allows for risk mitigation efforts to be employed as needed on a county-by-county basis.
“While we’d prefer if every employer could make their own decisions, a regional approach would certainly be better than the chaos Governor Murphy continues to cause in many industries with unnecessary statewide restrictions,” added Catalano. “Anyone can drive across the border into Pennsylvania to work out in a gym or enjoy a nice meal inside a restaurant, all with minimal risk. Even if the governor would just follow the regional model that has proven successful across the Delaware, we could reverse much of the economic and societal harm associated with his blanket statewide closures. Most importantly, we could quickly get hundreds of thousands of unemployed New Jerseyans safely back to work.”
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