JERSEY SHORE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The spring and summer seasons are highly profitable for small businesses in our area. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the future is uncertain for many merchants.

The gorgeous gems that would normally grace the glass showcases inside Nancy and David Fine Jewels in Millburn have been cleared out for security reasons ever since the store shut down in March.

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“At this point, it definitely feels very, very paralyzing,” Nancy Stone told CBS2’s Jessica Layton on Monday.

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The jewelry store is one of many stores across the state considered nonessential by the government, even though it’s certainly essential to the owners’ livelihoods. They don’t understand why they can’t reopen, with social distancing in mind.

“Our business is geared for minimal contact to begin with,” Nancy Stone said.

“We can easily take care of one client at at time,” David Stone added.

Layton’s colleague, reporter Nick Caloway, took that issue to Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday.

“If businesses like supermarkets and liquor stores can implement social distancing guidelines and remain open why can’t other businesses use similar protocols?” Caloway asked.

“That’s on a long list of things for us which we constantly do consider and observe. We need to continue to see more progress on the health care curves for us to take more steps,” Murphy responded.


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Asked about his vision for summer, the governor said the decision to open beaches and boardwalks is up to each municipality.

“Bear with us on that. We’re not making any news today on beaches yet. … We think some guidance is in order,” Murphy said.

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For restaurant owner Chris Woods, that guidance can’t come quick enough.

“It’s not a flip of a switch. It’s gonna take some time,” Woods said.

He owns eateries in Tinton Falls and Sea Bright, and is banking on business in time for Memorial Day weekend, which is less than three weeks away.

“We operate on thin margins to begin with, so when you’re approaching May and you know that your best months are coming … for that period of time the survival rate of many restaurants is gonna be very, very low,” Woods said.


Sen. Declan O’Scanlon said the governor must plan to reopen Shore businesses like Woody’s Ocean Grill before the unofficial kickoff to summer.

“It isn’t about just I want to go frolic in the waves. It’s about avoiding the destruction of businesses that will cost peoples’ lives or devastate peoples’ lives,” O’Scanlon said.

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He said we could always reevaluate, but for now plan to open and give people some hope that they haven’t had for a while.