New Jersey’s Nonessential Retail Can Open June 15, Governor Says

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(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey’s nonessential retail businesses can open starting June 15, Governor Phil Murphy said, with stores limited to 50% capacity and customers required to wear face coverings.

Murphy announced the latest step to restart the economy as he lamented the “astronomical number” of 1.2 million residents now unemployed. The state received 27,000 new unemployment claims for the week ending May 30.

The new coronavirus has put more than one in nine New Jerseyans out of work since mid-March, and almost 960,000 are collecting jobless benefits, according to data released Thursday.

“Social distancing must remain our routine,” Murphy said. “We will take a big step forward in our restart and our recovery.”

New Jersey’s death toll rose by 92 to 11,970 while the number of virus cases increaed 603 to 162,530.

Hospitals reported discharging 219 coronavirus patients in the prior 24 hours. They admitted 33 people for treatment. Statewide, 1,982 virus patients were hospitalized, compared with more than 8,000 at the peak in April.

As Murphy was speaking, the state Assembly voted 51-28 -- along party lines, with Republicans opposed -- to authorize at least $5 billion in short- and long-term borrowing. It would help fill an estimated $10.1 billion revenue shortage through June 2021 and would include borrowing via the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility.

“If we didn’t do bonding, that’s how property taxes would rise,” Murphy said, because homeowners would have to cover the costs of rehiring 200,000 public employees -- about half the local and state workforce statewide -- expected to lose their jobs if the revenue hole goes unfilled.

The measure, which would raise sales taxes and the nation’s highest property levies if revenue to repaydoesn’t materialize, has opposition in the state Senate. It also could run afoul of a constitutional borrowing limit.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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