Expanded Mask Wearing Ordered

On July 8th, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new executive order mandating people wear a face covering outdoors in public when social distancing is difficult. New Jersey has required people since early April to wear a mask at indoor public places, such as stores, eateries, and government buildings. This order broadens current orders to include outdoor places. The order mandates that you wear a mask if you’re in an outdoor setting with large gatherings and can't keep your distance from people other than your family or household members and caregivers. Children under age 2 and those whose health or safety would be hurt by wearing them are not required to wear masks. Violators can receive summonses for disorderly persons offenses carrying jail terms of up to 6 months and/or fines of $1,000.

U Can Pick Safely

U-Pick farm operations offer an opportunity for customers to purchase local fresh fruits and vegetables.  Customers need to understand that picking produce at farms is about obtaining food at this time and should not be used to as an event destination or a family gathering.  Farmers must follow the New Jersey Executive Orders that are specific to essential retail businesses.  Each farm is unique and there are no one size fits all answers to providing a safe environment for workers and customers.  Farms will need to focus on all aspects of the farm experience for the customers including parking, check-in, locating picking areas, movement through the picking area, and check-out. Here's a list of U-Pick farms near Merchantville.

NJ Stage 1 Reopening Announced

Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday outlined a multi-stage reopening plan for businesses, offices and activities ordered closed to slow the coronavirus outbreak. it's intended to execute a responsible and strategic economic restart to put New Jersey on the road back to recovery from COVID-19. The state has entered “Stage 1”, which allows for relaxed restrictions on low-risk activities, like enjoying parks, beaches and lakefronts, but calls for residents to “stay at home as much as possible.” Visit the NJ Covid-19 Information Hub for more questions and answers on "The Road Back"

New Outdoor Activities to Reopen

Gov. Murphy's Executive Order No. 147 will take effect on Friday, May 22nd at 6:00 a.m. allowing certain outdoor activities at recreational businesses, including archery ranges, batting cages, golf driving ranges, horseback riding, shooting ranges, and tennis clubs as well as community gardens to open with required social distancing measures in place. To limit physical interactions, the order requires outdoor recreational businesses that reopen to limit capacity to 10 people at one time and implement reasonable restrictions. Community gardens may reopen so long as they comply with the same restrictions implemented at parks under Executive Order No. 133. The order also relaxes four of the restrictions on golf courses, allowing them to expand tee-times to four players, allow the use of forecaddies, offer club and equipment rentals, and reopen restrooms with disinfecting and hygiene protocols in place.


NJ School Close For Year

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday, May 4th, that all public and private schools in the state will remain closed for the rest of the academic year. His statement read, “This is a difficult decision and I know that many students, parents, and staff would like to be able to return to school." Murphy first ordered all schools in the state closed on March 18th and said repeatedly that remote education would continue until at least May 15th. With Monday‘s announcement, all schools will continue online learning through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Private schools with longer academic years will remain closed until at least June 30th and a decision on school-sponsored summer programs and Extended School Year services for students with disabilities will be forthcoming. A steering committee will be formed to explore approaches for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 academic year, according to the statement.

Enhanced SNAP Benefits

Many Camden County residents who receive food assistance through the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP) will receive additional benefits in May to help address critical food needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. An additional $36 million will be provided to about 214,000 New Jersey households in May. SNAP supplemental payments were included in the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. In March and April, Human Services announced $70 million in total additional NJ SNAP benefits that were provided to New Jerseyans to help purchase groceries. If you need food assistance, visit njhelp.org to apply for SNAP online.

NJ Pandemic Relief Fund

First lady Tammy Murphy said the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, known as NJPRF, was established “to collect donations and distribute funds. One hundred percent of donations received online by NJPRF will be used to fight the medical, social, and economic impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s most vulnerable, supporting organizations that provide essential services and aiding those on the front line of the pandemic. NJPRF is proud to be hosted by the Community Foundation of New Jersey, which has been serving the needs of New Jersey nonprofits and philanthropists for more than 40 years.” NJPRF announced its first round of grants on April 9th to help stabilize the food distribution network that provides food security for more than 1,000,000 residents in vulnerable communities across the state.To donate, go to https://njprf.org/. There are also many other ongoing statewide volunteer and donation efforts.

New Executive Orders

Governor Murphy signed new Executive Orders to further NJ's aggressive efforts to enforce social distancing. All non-essential construction across New Jersey will CEASE, indefinitely, effective 8:00 p.m. Friday. Exceptions include projects at our hospitals and schools, in our transportation and public utility sector, the building of affordable housing, other individual housing sites that can adhere to strict limits on the number of workers on-site, and other limited instances.

We’re also aiming to mitigate overcrowding at essential retail stores – particularly in our grocery stores. Under this Executive Order, all essential retail must indefinitely limit the number of customers allowed in their stores to NO MORE than 50% of their approved capacity. Additionally, customers & employees must wear face coverings. Stores must also provide special shopping hours for high-risk individuals, erect physical barriers between customers and cashiers and baggers where practicable, regularly sanitize areas used by their employees, & more. And, moving the date of our primary elections from Tuesday, June 2nd to Tuesday, July 7th.

New Bills Signed by Governor Murphy

From March 18th - 19th Governor Murphy signed the following bills to support residents and businesses and curb the spread of coronavirus during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bills A3680 and A3682 to expand access to tele-health services and to allow professional and occupational licensing board to expedite licensure of out-of-state professionals. Executive Order 106 places a moratorium on removing people from their homes due to evictions or foreclosures. No renter or homeowner can be evicted until further notice. Executive Order 105 implemented changes to upcoming elections to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that voters can exercise their right to vote without risking their health and safety. Bill A-3852/S-2296 allowing conduct of State business and legislative sessions at locations other than Trenton during periods of emergency or other exigence and allows conduct of legislative business using electronic means. Additionally, new amendments were added to the Child Care Subsidy Program to help provide access to critical child care subsidies while eligible parents attend jobs.

Stewardship Grant Received

On 12/31/19, The NJ Department of Environmental Protection, through The New Jersey Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, awarded $122,500 in grants to 11 municipalities to promote the stewardship of urban and community trees and forests. Resiliency planning grants totaling $76,500 have been awarded to eight municipalities: Merchantville Borough, Camden County ($10,000); Byram Township, Sussex County ($10,000); City of Trenton, Mercer County ($10,000); Pennsauken Township, Camden County ($10,000); Teaneck Township, Bergen County ($10,000); Ridgewood Village, Bergen County ($10,000); West Cape May Borough, Cape May County ($10,000); and Park Ridge Borough, Bergen County ($6,500). Funding for the 2019 grants comes from the “Treasure Our Trees” state license plate sales and the No Net Loss Compensatory Reforestation program.

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