Car and motorcycle dealerships and bike shops, can resume on-site sales starting at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the latest relaxation of the stringent rules meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
That comes after Gov. Phil Murphy, on Monday, rolled out an in-depth to-do list for the order in which restrictions would be lifted and that businesses would be allowed to reopen in the state.
New Jersey is currently in the first of three stages the state must go through, Murphy said, adding the state could be considerably along that timeline by mid-June.
“Our singular goal will be to prevent another attack by COVID-19. We will be guided by public health, data and science,” Murphy said on Monday at his daily COVID-19 press briefing in Trenton.
Most of those activities being allowed, Murphy said, take place outdoors, and reduce the risk of packed crowds that would afford the virus a better chance to spread to new hosts.
“I’ve been to car dealerships, it’s a big parking lot,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, said in a recent editorial interview with NJBIZ.
Under the order, occupancy must be capped at 50 percent, and a 6-foot distance must be maintained between the customer and salesperson, except during the time of payment and the actual sale of the product.
But, contactless pay and pick-up options should be the norm as much as possible at any business staying open.
Test drives for any cars must be done by the customer alone, and the vehicle must be thoroughly sanitized after the drive if the customer opts not to make the purchase.
Face-masks must be worn, signs must be posted in the shops reminding guests and workers to adhere to social distancing, and high-traffic areas such as restrooms and counters must be cleaned frequently.
The state’s Motor Vehicle Commission offices have been closed indefinitely, but car registrations can be done online.
Car sales make up a lion’s share of sales tax revenue for the state, which has been shattered as numerous COVID-19 restrictions suspend vast swathes of the state’s economy.
“Even within each stage we will phase in our restart,” Murphy said. “Then we will step back as we look at these steps and make sure the data works. We will move through each step, we will do so with public health firmly in mind.”
All kinds of retail can now open for businesses, but non-essential is available only curbside pick-up.
“Inside, lacking ventilation, sedentary, close proximity, those are really hard nuts to crack,” Murphy says.
Things like religious services, haircuts and sit-down dining, for example, might have restrictions lifted much later than say, those with some kind of “outdoor element to them,” which allow for ventilation, social distancing, and where “we can manage capacity.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 7:23 am. EST on May 20, 2020, to include details for operating guidelines for reopened car and motorcycle dealerships and bicycle shops.