Governor: Stimulus provides more “freedom” for possible lockdown

In considering whether or not to put more restrictions in place in New Jersey as coronavirus cases climb, Governor Phil Murphy said a federal stimulus package would provide “more degrees of freedom.” The governor has suggested that closing businesses would be too damaging without aid from the federal government.

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“If we see transmission, we’ll take action whether the feds are supporting financially or not, but if it’s a close call on the margin and you’ve got federal stimulus in size that can help these poor small business owners, restaurant owners, folks who are unemployed, that gives you more degrees of freedom, without question,” Murphy said on “CBS This Morning” Tuesday.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been at a stalemate for months over a new stimulus package, with many pandemic aid programs running out of funding or set to expire in December.

New Jersey, like many states across the nation, has seen a sharp increase in cases over the last few weeks. Murphy announced new restrictions last week, limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 150 people. But, there is not a stay-at-home order like there was in the spring when coronavirus cases were first rising.

Murphy said the state “had no choice in the spring.”

“This is something we knew nothing about as a nation, frankly as a global health community. That’s an asset today. We know a lot more,” he said. “We’re in for a rough couple of months, and we’ve got to keep our guard up, but we know a lot more. We have a lot more capacities and the vaccine scene is real. They are coming. They’ll be safe. They’ll be efficacious. But, for the next two to three months, we are in a tough war.”

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Murphy pleaded with people to not gather for the upcoming holidays. 

“Celebrate with just your immediate family and please don’t do it with grandma and grandpa,” he said. 

The governor also responded to a recent incident where he and his family were accosted while dining outside. He called the incident “unfortunate,” but said he understands that stress levels are high. 

“I’m a big guy. I can take it. My wife can take it. I’d prefer folks to be more civil and to leave our kids out of this, but I completely get the stress,” he said. “The stress levels are exceptionally high. You’ve lost a job, you’ve lost a business, you’ve lost a loved one. I can’t blame folks for being stressful. I just would preach that we got to try to find ways to come together, hunker down. This isn’t forever and for always. We got a tough few months in front of us, but we’re going to get through this. We just got to do it together.”

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