A council with membership in the hundreds will give color to the Murphy administration on how the state’s nine major industries could fully bounce back once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Friday.
Last week, the governor announced the 21 members of a commission that would also focus on how to kickstart an economy placed in suspended animation in order to halt the spread of COVID-19.
That commission would focus on “strategy,” while this newly announced “Governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council” will focus on the “actual tactics,” Murphy said – though it has not been made clear what this exactly means.
“This is where the various voices of those on the ground, our small businesses, communities of faith … among many others, will come together to advise us,” Murphy said at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Trenton. “This is a boots on the ground, real-world approach.”
The council will be chaired by New Jersey Economic Development Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan, Choose NJ President and CEO Jose Lozano and the state’s higher education secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis.
It will be broken down into nine separate committees, one each for government, health care, Main Street businesses, manufacturing and supply chain, professional services, social services and faith, tourism and entertainment, and transportation and infrastructure.
The members of the council will advise the commission on how they understand their respective industries, said Matt Platkin, chief counsel at the governor’s office. They would look at what the industries “can and cannot do,” the governor said.
“Opening the restaurants and boardwalk shops down on the shore is quite different from restarting retail in downtown Morristown, Lambertville and Collingswood,” the governor added.
Meetings will start next week, according to Murphy.
Like the six-step guideline for how the state can lift the restrictions and continue stomp out the virus in New Jersey, the commission and council otherwise have no set timelines.
To contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Murphy enacted a virtual statewide lockdown and sweeping restrictions. Public gatherings and nonessential travel are banned. Any businesses where groups of people congregate have to keep their doors closed, and that ranges from casinos to theaters, concert venues to malls, tattoo parlors to salons, and dine-in restaurants to bars.
To avoid the risk of exposure to COVID-19, many more people opt to stay indoors rather than leave home and spend money – or they have lost their jobs and in turn, tightened their belts. That’s led to a domino effect; while the measures have been successful in containing the outbreak, businesses have seen steep drops in revenue, forcing hundreds of thousands of layoffs or furloughs, and leading to unemployment levels rivaling that of the Great Depression.