RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Monday was the first day non-essential businesses could reopen in New Jersey, but there were restrictions.
Businesses like a Ridgewood book store have reopened, at least partially. You can’t go inside and browse the selection, at least not yet.
After two months of pandemic-related closures, many business owners are hoping to get back on track. But it’s not full steam ahead just yet.
Many businesses deemed non-essential and forced to close back in March are now allowed to open for curbside pickup.
That’s a step forward for Vince Barbuto, owner of Quality Shoe Repair in downtown Ridgewood. Customers can drop off shoes for cleaning or repair, then pick them up outside.
“We’ll take anything we can get. At this time, after eight weeks, I’m willing to do anything. Whatever it takes,” he said.
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Down the street at Bookends, a popular local book store, co-owner Walter Boyer said he was glad to be back. Customers can order online and pick up out front. It’s not the normal shopping experience, but these are not normal times, reported CBS2’s Nick Caloway.
“And it gives us some hope that we can survive this pandemic. And at this point, knock on wood, we are heading in the right direction,” Boyer said.
Big box stores are also offering curbside pickup, like at Nordstrom in Paramus. But some customers said that now, more than ever, they’re going to make a point of shopping local.
“I don’t think anyone is rushing to eat out at a restaurant or sit in a bar. But I think everybody wants to support the businesses as well as they can,” said shopper Gretchen Putnam.
Gov. Phil Murphy discussed Monday what the second phase of reopening New Jersey could look like, including expanded retail, outdoor dining, indoor dining at reduced capacity, limited personal care, and possibly museums and libraries.
Murphy announced he would sign an executive order opening up additional outdoor activities, effective Friday at 6 a.m.
Outdoor recreational activities that can resume include batting cages, golf ranges, shooting and archery ranges, horseback riding, private tennis clubs and community gardens. In addition, golfers will be able to play as foursomes instead of just as pairs.
Murphy said the state’s reopening continues to be driven by facts and data.
“While we are not nearly out of the woods yet, and thousands of our fellow New Jerseyans remain in the hospital battling COVID-19, as you can see we are moving forward carefully, methodically, and responsibly,” the governor said.
Murphy said the state will face a “new normal,” much like the nation did after 9/11.
Murphy outlined the stages he said will be involved in reaching that new normal. Social distancing and staying home whenever possible will “remain constant,” as will wearing face coverings when out in public, and safe hygiene like washing hands frequently.
“We will all have to recognize mass public gatherings, large or small, won’t be happening any time soon,” he said.
The goal for reopening is to protect the workforce, Murphy said. About 25% of the state’s workforce can — and likely will — continue to work from home. About 40% of the state’s workforce falls into the category of having the greatest amount of contact with the public and coworkers, meaning they will have to take the greatest amount of protective measures to stay safe.
“This is why we’re putting a premium on ensuring workplace safeguards that will protect you, your coworkers and your customers and clients,” he said.
Murphy said it seems clear some jobs lost due to the pandemic won’t return.
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“As we enter each stage… we will allow businesses and activities to reopen according to their risk level and the challenges they will face to safeguard public health. However this will not be everyone at once as we reach a new stage,” the governor said.
Murphy said the state has moved past the maximum lockdown phase. He praised New Jerseyans for following guidelines, leading to the conditions that have allowed some businesses to start to reopen, along with beaches and parks.
“What we’re working to get to now is stage two, which would be a broader restart of our economy,” Murphy said. Such a phase might include allowing restaurants to welcome customers at outdoor – and possibly even some indoor – tables, and some personal services. Stage two includes expanded retail, outdoor dining, indoor dining at reduced capacity, limited personal care, and possibly museums and libraries.
Proper hygiene and social distancing will remain top priorities.
“Like each of you, I am anxious to get to stage two. But to do that, we will need to see continued improvement in the data, continued increases in our testing and contract tracing abilities, or capacities rather, greater adoption of workplace and customer safeguards,” Murphy said. “Just as 9/11 did, COVID-19 has changed everything. We have to accept that. We have to learn its lessons
“But again, when we get to stage two, not everything will happen at once. We will continue to responsibly and deliberately give different sectors, a green light in steps,” he added.
He didn’t give a hard date on when phase two will begin, but said the numbers have to continue trending down.
As for nonessential retail, just because stores can open doesn’t mean they have. Many storefronts are still dark, with “closed” sign hung in March still lingering today.
For some that did reopen, business is slow. But the owners Caloway talked to are optimistic.
“I do see the phone ring, starting to ring, which is a good sign,” Barbuto said.
While it is still pretty quiet in Ridgewood, one business owner told Caloway it finally feels like there’s a pulse.
There were an addition 1,735 positive cases overnight, for a statewide total of 148,039. Murphy said that might reflect some weekend numbers. There are 3,509 people in hospitals including 1,053 in ICUs. There were 334 new patients admitted and 190 discharged. There have been an additional 83 deaths, for a total of 10,435.