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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy defends reopening strategy after GOP suit

Governor declines to comment on Republican State Committee’s court challenge

By Nikita Biryukov, May 21 2020 2:49 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy declined to comment specifically on a Republican State Committee suit seeking to invalidate his executive order that forced most businesses in the state to close as he defended his reopening plan Thursday.

“I’ve got nothing to add on a suit. We make the decision about what’s essential and what’s non-essential based on data, science, facts, health and a big input from the women to my right and their colleagues,” the governor said. “I’m sorry if folks don’t like the definitions, but the fact of the matter is they’re quite consistent, by the way, in terms of essential/non-essential that has been designated nationally as well.”

The suit, filed Thursday morning in Cape May County Superior Court, claims Murphy’s order deprived residents of equal protection and due process clauses of the state constitution. It also seeks injunctions against future executive actions mandating business closures.

Under the governor’s reopening plan, businesses in the state will begin operating in tiers. That plan is currently in its first stage.

Most recently, non-essential businesses have been allowed to operate via curbside pickup. Other types of businesses are set to be reopened under the plan’s second and third stages, though there’s been no indication of when those phases will begin.

“We’re going to continue to try to open these up,” Murphy said. “We’ve gone for non-essential with curbside pickup. We know that’s not a full loaf, but it’s part of the loaf. We’re going to continue to try to open things up, assuming the health metrics and indicators continue to warrant that.”

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