Republican legislators in the 13th district urged Gov. Phil Murphy to allow some small business contractors and construction workers to reopen as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines set out by health officials.
“Look, the majority of residents understand the health risks facing New Jersey as well as the entire country and certain measures are necessary to ensure their overall safety — we are not debating that,” State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon said. “But we have to safeguard against crushing our local guys under these constraints. The Governor’s executive order to limit construction — as well intended as it may be — could have serious implications for our workers who are relying on these jobs to put food on their tables.”
Most construction projects were deemed non-essential and closed by an executive order Murphy issued earlier this month.
“We are coming into the prime season for many contractors, especially the smaller operators who overwhelmingly rely on this time of year to recover from natural downturns during the winter months,” said Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso. “Without question, we want to ensure their well-being and that of our residents, but we believe many of our local contractors can operate safely within appropriate social distancing restrictions if they so choose.”
Projects involving hospitals, schools, transportation, utilities and some affordable housing can continue under strict limits on the number of workers present.
“New Jersyans have been tremendously cooperative, adhering to CDC guidelines and we’ve started to see the impact of that even before this executive order was implemented,” Assemblyman Gerald Scharfenberger said. “The choice should be left up to individual contractors and their employees as to whether they feel their work can continue safely.”