Gopal, Sweeney Bill to Allow County-Based Plans for COVID-19 Re-Openings Passes Senate

Trenton – In response to statewide guidelines requiring businesses to close or reduce operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Jersey Senate today passed legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senate President Steve Sweeney that would establish a county-based mitigation plan to allow businesses to operate during a pandemic.

“While New Jersey has been hit hard by the pandemic, each part of the state has been affected differently and at different times,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “This has made it especially difficult to maintain continuity since those openings and closures are being determined on a statewide level. This means that counties who may have seen fewer COVID-19 cases are being hit with the same restrictions as areas that have been inundated with cases. Giving control to our county leaders is a common-sense, practical thing to do, and will allow counties to implement plans that are best suited for them at any given time.”

The bill, S-3093, would direct the Governor, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, to develop and implement a color categorized (red, yellow, green) mitigation plan to allow businesses to operate during a pandemic that is affecting the State.

“Our goal is that by enacting this bill, New Jersey counties can regain autonomy in making decisions that best benefit their community,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “By implementing a color-coded reopening system for New Jersey based on local conditions and current data, we will be able to effectively keep the economy open in correlation to how the virus may or may not be spreading in a particular area.”

Under the bill, the risk of the disease spreading within the State would be categorized by color, establishing appropriate thresholds for reaching each category. The following colors would be used as a category of risk:

  • Red, which indicates that there is an active outbreak and is the highest level of risk;
  • Yellow, which indicates that the risk of an outbreak is moderate; and
  • Green, which indicates that the risk of an outbreak is low.

The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 33-0.