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The Post  
NJ to Open Non-Essential Retail/Construction 5/18; Atlantic City Votes Keep Mayor; Bucks Co Protest
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 05/13/20 4:31 pm | updated: 05/13/20 4:31 pm
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced on Wednesday, 5/13, that non-essential retail and construction can resume in the state beginning on Monday, 5/18, with restrictions. Murphy will be signed an executive order. Non-essential stores can reopen, however, no customers will be allowed inside retail stores and stores can open for curbside pickup only. Work can resume at non-essential construction with these safeguards: clear posting of safety protocols, preventing overcrowding, prohibiting non-essential visitors, staggering work hours and breaks, ensuring proper sanitation. Also, "gatherings of vehicles, such as drive-in movies or church services, are not a violation of my order prohibiting mass gatherings, as long as all participants remain in cars. If vehicles are closer than six ft apart, all windows, sunroofs, convertible tops must remain closed."



A referendum to change the form of government in Atlantic City was defeated in a special election on Tuesday, 5/12. Not all the ballots have been counted in the strictly mail-in election, but it is clear from Tuesday night's tallies that the referendum will not have enough support to win. Residents were voting on whether or not to keep the current form of government with a directly elected mayor and 9 person council or to change to a council-manager format with five at-large council members who would chose a city manager to run day-to-day operations. Due to the coronavirus lockdown, all ballots were cast by mail.

Bob McDevitt, chairman of the political action committee behind the referendum and president of the local casino workers' union, said in a statement, "After the first night of counting ballots it is clear that the referendum to change the government in Atlantic City will be defeated by a wide margin even though counting continues. We congratulate the opposition to the question and thereby concede defeat. The citizens of Atlantic City have spoken and the Atlantic City Residents for Good Government respect their choice. There are many challenges ahead for Atlantic City as we begin to reopen business on the heels of the devastating pandemic. We wish the elected officials well in their struggles ahead and offer a heartfelt thanks to all our supporters who worked so tirelessly on behalf of our cause. The people have rejected change and we accept without qualification their decision."

A few dozen people gathered outside the courthouse in Doylestown, Bucks County, on Wednesday morning, 5/13, calling on state and local leaders to allow businesses to reopen in the county. The demonstration was organized by a group called ReOpen Bucks County PA. Bucks County Commissioners have recently been working with state officials to get guidance on reopening. Today's demonstrators are dismayed that store's like Target, Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot have been allowed to remain open, but small businesses that sell the same products have had to remain shuttered. They want to be able to restart their businesses, serve their community, and do it safely. Bucks County is in the Southeastern region that is slated to move into the 'yellow phase' last. Currently, stay-at-home orders last until June 4.

One explicit criteria for reopening is having less than 50 new cases total/100,000 people per capita over a two week period. Bucks County has 628,270 people. That would mean the county would have to see less than 314 new cases over a two week period, or an average of 22 new cases per day. The past 14 days have had new cases each day of: 61, 49, 104, 83, 89, 75, 70, 45, 45, 35, 43, 52, 40, 30, 33. There hasn't been 22 or less on one day let alone 14 in a row, though the numbers are trending down. Other reopening criteria include testing and contact tracing capabilities and hospital capacity.

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