New Jersey will begin Stage Two of its reopening on June 15, according to Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement on Monday, June 1. As of Tuesday, June 9, the stay-at-home order has been lifted.
Reopening will be, for the most part, gradual, and capacity will continue to be limited. Guidelines released by the governor indicate that indoor gatherings are permitted at 25 percent capacity, or 50 people maximum, and outdoor gatherings at 100 people maximum.
On June 15, restaurants can begin to offer outdoor dining. Child daycare centers, which previously were open only to the children of essential workers, can reopen fully. Motor Vehicles Commission (MVC) offices will open for some services on June 15, and other services — such as driving tests — will become available on June 29. Hairdressers, barbershops, and community pools can open on June 22. Day camps can open on July 6.
Parks, beaches, boardwalks, and many other outdoor recreation centers have reopened with limited capacity as of late May, while gyms and other health clubs will be gradually phased in.
For one New Jersey native, the reopening is an important step to help struggling businesses.
“Personally, I know that businesses can’t continue [like this] much longer,” said Linda Chen ’23, who lives in Fort Lee, N.J., around an hour from Princeton.
Small businesses in Princeton are developing strategies to maintain social distancing measures and reopen in accordance with new state guidelines.
Gab Carbone, owner of Princeton ice cream parlor The Bent Spoon — which transitioned to curbside pickup on March 16 — told The Daily Princetonian how his store has adapted. The ice cream shop will soon introduce a sign system in which customers take a number, wait to order at a distance, such as on the green across the street, see the number on the sign, and come up to the store only when their number is displayed. For extra protection, a pop-up table with a plexiglass shield was installed.
All of these measures are aimed at ensuring the safety and comfort of staff and customers, while also needing to maintain the significant revenue the summer season normally brings for the shop.
“Do we really want to open our doors. . . and expose our staff to all sorts of people who are on a spectrum to not believing in the virus at all, to people who are immunocompromised and want to continue to stay isolated because of that?” said Carbone. “It’s like a marathon that turned into an Ironman.”
Non-essential retail stores can resume business on June 15 as well. In an interview with the ‘Prince,’ Dorothea von Moltke, owner of Labyrinth Books, emphasized the safety of customers and staff above all else.
“We won’t be opening until all the measures that need to be taken are in place,” said von Moltke, who cautioned against “fall[ing] into a sense of artificial haste.”
Labyrinth will re-open sometime after July 4, according to von Moltke. “We can’t compromise” on health and safety measures, she explained.
In the meantime, Labyrinth is reorganizing and deep-cleaning so the store is well-prepared for when it does reopen. The number of walk-in customers will be limited, and they will be able to sign up for time-slots to visit the store.
Labyrinth will look different, too. Display tables will be moved, and downstairs will become the used and sale books section. The storefront sidewalk will look different as well, allowing for customers to keep at a distance from one another.
Implementing the necessary changes will present a challenge, von Moltke noted, since they require hiring more labor in an already depressed economy. She stressed what she sees as a need for federal financial support for small businesses.
“We need the government to underwrite our caution ... the urgency is for more federal grants or zero-to-two percent interest loans,” she said.
For von Moltke, this need is especially acute as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) grant that Labyrinth received is running out.