Mayors of 20 of Ocean County’s 33 municipalities sent a letter Friday to Murphy calling on him to “open our economy now,” complaining that the Democratic governor is not moving fast enough.

The group, which includes mayors from both parties, said, “The time to lift or relax restrictions on all commerce is now.”

The mayors wrote that businesses and individuals have learned to adjust to the pandemic and should be trusted to act responsibly.

“It is in everyone’s best interest to allow those that want to work and spend to be free to do so. The shore and the state of New Jersey can ill afford to lose an entire summer season. We realize your restrictions are being lessened in phases, but that is not quick enough. These actions need to happen immediately, or the chance of reopening will no longer exist for many of our businesses.”

The Ocean County mayors follow similar protests by a growing list of municipal leaders in the group Mayors for Main Street, which launched in May with Republican officials in Somerset County and has grown to include additional mayors in Middlesex, Morris, Union and Warren.

On Thursday, the group said that municipalities would ease restrictions to complement the state's reopening plans.

Bernardsvile, for example, will relax pre-pandemic rules on outdoor dining, sidewalk sales and outdoor merchandise displays.

Warren Township and Bedminster are issuing special permits to allow all eateries to have outdoor dining and to allow shops to have sidewalk sales and outdoor displays. The towns are also reserving parking spaces to accommodate curbside pickup.

New Jersey began allowing curbside pickup for non-essential retailers on May 18. Outdoor dining will be permitted starting June 15. All retailers will also be able to resume indoors operations, at limited capacity and with social-distancing rules in place, on June 15. Salons and barbershops can open June 22.

Gov. Phil Murphy's executive orders still do not allow for the insides of shopping malls, schools or other services such as gyms to reopen. Murphy said guidance on reopening community and club pools would be released next week.

New Jersey reported 79 new deaths Friday, putting the death toll at 12,049. There were nearly 900 new positive cases, putting the total figure at 163,000. New Jersey is behind only New York as the state with the most cases.

 

(Includes material Copyright 2020 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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