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NJ Shopping Malls to Reopen Amid Coronavirus With Social-Distancing in Place

Stores in New Jersey malls can welcome back customers on June 29 with social-distancing measures aimed at preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus in place

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What to Know

  • You will soon be able to shop at New Jersey malls again.
  • Months after Gov. Phil Murphy closed nonessential retail to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, he announced Thursday that indoor malls can welcome back customer on June 29.
  • Face coverings and social-distancing will be required.

Stores in New Jersey shopping malls will welcome back customers later this month as Gov. Phil Murphy slowly reopens parts of his state's economy from coronavirus closures.

The indoor portions of malls (outside of arcades and movie theaters) can reopen to shoppers on June 29.

Social-distancing measures and face mask requirements that are in place for non-mall retailers must also be adhered to in shopping mall stores, Murphy said at his Thursday coronavirus news briefing. Store capacity will be capped at 50%.

Mall restaurants can offer outdoor dining and takeout, but food court seating areas will remain closed.

"Malls are part of New Jersey culture and lure," Murphy said. "We want these businesses to get back up and running responsibly and safely. If you head out to the mall, please comply with the requirements in place."

The first-term Democrat said he spoke to mall operators about giving them a period of time to prepare for reopening. He said the 11-day period will allow for mall stores to prepare.

New Jersey is slowing reopening from the outbreak, moving into Stage 2, of three, this week. Murphy has reported the state's rate of transmission of the virus and the percentage of people testing positive are among the lowest in the country.

Still, the state was a hot spot, with more than 168,000 positive cases and at least 12,800 deaths from COVID-19-related complications. Thirty-eight new deaths were announced Thursday.

Murphy on Thursday reiterated that the reopenings are occurring as the coronavirus continues to infect people. He continued to urge people to keep up with social distancing.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

Jobless Claims Climb

Jobless claims in New Jersey climbed 14% to 26,392 last week, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

Jobless claims had been falling since their peak of 215,000 claims in late March and early April. The department did not explain the uptick.

More than 1 million people in the state have filed claims since the COVID-19 outbreak began.

“The volume of claims continues to be staggering, well beyond anything the states could have been prepared for,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a statement.

Twenty-eight percent — or roughly 1.24 million workers — have been sidelined since the outbreak struck in New Jersey in early March, the department said. The state has paid out $7.2 billion in benefits as of June 13, with more than half coming from the federal government and the state making up more than $2 billion, according to the statement.

"The onslaught of unemployment claims over the past three months is unprecedented," Murphy noted Thursday. "The labor department continues to do all it can to resolve issues and get benefits flowing. The overwhelming number of claims have been cleared and we will not rest until every penny is properly disbursed."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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