NJ Businesses Say They're Ready to Defy Gov. Murphy's Order, Open by June 1

A Facebook page dedicated to reopening on June 1 has 5,600 members, and one owner said that reopening before the executive order allows has come as a last resort

NBC Universal, Inc.

New Jersey business owners say thousands of desperate businesses are ready to violate Gov. Phil Murphy’s order and open by June 1. 

One owner told NBC New York that he will no longer stop people from walking into his store – something that is currently prohibited under the governor’s emergency order.

“The breaking point in my opinion is today,” said jeweler Michael Corbo, who owns Michael Anthony Jewelers. “If somebody wants to walk into my store, we have all the protocols to make them feel safe. We’re there.”

A Facebook page dedicated to reopening on June 1 has 5,600 members. Tom Trilevas, the owner of Topshelf Fitness, said reopening before the executive order allows has come as a last resort.

“We really did not want to do this. We were trying our hardest to go through the right channels, because we never wanted to defy order,” Trilevas said.

Most owners said they simply want to be given date when they can reopen, a light at the end of the tunnel. But nonessential business orders have been given no solid dates for a full reopening. Retailers are allowed curbside pickup, but many say that can’t sustain them.

“If (Murphy) could just get some dates on the board immediately, immediately he could put this to rest,” said Jack Panico, a salon owner. The governor has stated that health benchmarks have to be met. He has said spas and salons could open in a matter of weeks, but has given no solid date. Salons in Connecticut, meanwhile, will open June 1 after the state met its benchmarks.

“How is one state doing it and they’re right next to us,” said Trilevas. Another salon owner said she has received no guidance from the state, but has implemented her own safety protocols by following Connecticut’s guidelines.

In response to NBC New York, the governor’s office referred to Murphy’s comments from earlier in the day, in which he said the state’s priority is to “use science, data, and facts to put New Jersey on the road to recovery. In order to restore economic health, we must first promote public health. These key principles and metrics are critical for giving New Jerseyans confidence that we will re-open our state with our public health protocols firmly in place and our health care system prepared. Restarting New Jersey’s economy and returning people to work will be done methodically, strategically, and responsibly.” 

Despite the business owners’ questions and demands, recent polls show that the majority of New Jersey residents approve of the state’s pace of lifting restrictions.

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