New Jersey reopening car, motorcycle dealers and bike shops amid pandemic

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey car and motorcycle dealers along with bike shops shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic can reopen for in-person sales on Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

It's the latest development as the state begins to loosen restrictions that stemmed from the coronavirus outbreak in New Jersey, one of the hardest-hit states in the country.

"When we heard the news, we were ecstatic, that's the best way to describe it," said Ron Kutler of Cherry Hill Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram.

"There was a lot of financial pain to put it mildly. We were not making any money by any means. As a matter of fact, we obviously incurred many losses due to this," added Kutler.

Steve Pressman of Cherry Hill Auto Sales has been in business for 35 years and had been struggling financially.

"We have our bills to pay and we have our families to feed and when we don't have any sales going on we have no money coming in," said Pressman.

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New Jersey is now reopening car and motorcycle dealers.



For customers in the market, there may never be a better time to buy a car.

"We have zero percent financing for up to 72 months and no payments for up to 90 days which is unheard of. It's never been done before and obviously we've never been in times like this before," said Kutler.

Overnight, the state reported about 1,000 more positive cases, for a total of 149,000, Murphy said, with 162 more deaths. The death toll stands at 10,586, according to the first-term Democratic governor.

Two-week trends for hospitalizations, use of ventilators and intensive care units for patients are down across the state, Murphy said - factors leading to the phasing in of certain parts of the economy.

"The more these numbers drop the more confidence we will have that we are ready to move from stage one to stage two of our restart and we can begin planning for more business reopenings," said Murphy.

Starting this week, nonessential retailers in New Jersey are allowed to offer curbside pickup.

Officials with the Cherry Hill Mall said this is a brand new way of shopping, especially for retailers inside the temporarily shuttered mall.

"I think retail, and the way business is being done, is going to evolve and so we're going to evolve with it," said Lisa Wolstromer, senior marketing director for Cherry Hill Mall.

The mall has added designated pickup parking spots where people can pop the trunk and wait. So far, a handful of stores are participating.

"By the end of the week, I think we'll have more retailers coming on board. It just takes a little bit of time to figure out the logistics," said Wolstromer.

Come Friday, a list of outdoor businesses in New Jersey will be able to open, including driving ranges.

Officials with Camden County's driving range at Cooper River Park say all outdoor seating will be removed, all staff will wear gloves and masks, and golfers will be spaced out - likely using every other booth.

"It'll generate revenue for the county which is a good thing, but more importantly, it'll allow our residents to come out, get some exercise in, get in the fresh air without being in danger of contracting the virus," said Camden County Freeholder Louis Cappelli.

A look at other developments:
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NURSING HOME DEATHS

The number of nursing-home deaths from the virus is being revised downward by about 1,400 to 4,295, Murphy said. That's because the older figures included deaths of people whose COVID-19 tests had not been lab-confirmed.
Murphy said the change stemmed from making the nursing home death toll comparable to the overall fatality figure he reports every day, which he said includes only lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths.

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NO PRESCRIPTION NECESSARY

The state's 18,000 licensed pharmacists may now administer COVID-19 tests under an administrative order the governor announced Tuesday. He said that means the tests can be given without a prescription.

Fifty CVS pharmacies across the state will also begin offering self-swab tests by the end of the month, Murphy said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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