Murphy lifts restrictions; Sweeney tackles warehouse sprawl; T-Mobile’s Builder recognized; Cabinet member dances for clean energy

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

TrueNorth returns to your inbox to mark New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's decision to lift COVID restrictions on various gatherings and activities. We also spotlight Senate President Steve Sweeney's effort to combat warehouse sprawl. To round out our coverage, we recognize two of our favorite people for their accomplishments. We missed writing to you and hope you're glad to see us again!

Murphy relaxes COVID restrictions


New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has announced the easing of a number of COVID-related restrictions that will remove capacity limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings, dining and other businesses. Murphy announced the next step in New Jersey’s phased reopening in partnership with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.

Murphy cited declining COVID cases and hospitalizations as well as over 7 million vaccinations as rationale for the lifting of restrictions.   The evidence-based move comes as warmer Spring weather is allowing more outdoor activities.  The New Jersey Governor lifted the restrictions via executive order.  Barring an unexpected uptick in COVID-19 numbers, the following changes will go into effect on Wednesday, May 19:

Complete removal of outdoor gathering limit:  Attendees at outdoor gatherings will still be required to remain six feet apart from other groups.

Indoor gathering limit:  The general indoor gathering limit will be raised to 50 persons, up from 25 persons. The limit applies to general social gatherings, such as birthday parties and events in people’s homes. Commercial gatherings and gatherings organized and operated by an overseeing entity (e.g. conferences, expositions, meetings of fraternal organizations, job trainings, events hosted by senior centers) will be subject to the 250-person indoor gathering limit that applies to indoor catered events, as long as all attendees can remain six feet apart.

Complete removal of all percentage capacity limits for indoor and outdoor businesses, and houses of worship:  Any business, whether indoors or outdoors, that is subject to a percentage capacity limitation will instead be guided by the rule regarding six feet of distance between persons or groups of persons.  This would include:

  • Indoor dining – Currently, indoor dining is limited to 50% capacity. This change will remove the 50% limitation but maintain the six feet of required distance between tables, except that tables will still be permitted to be closer than six feet where restaurants use partitions that comply with DOH requirements. Additionally, the prohibition on tables of more than 8 persons will be lifted. As a reminder, outdoor dining has never been bound to a capacity percentage.
  • Houses of worship and religious services, which are currently at 50% capacity.
  • Retail businesses, which are currently at 50% capacity.
  • Gyms, which are currently at 50% capacity.
  • Personal care services, which are currently at 50% capacity.
  • Indoor and outdoor amusement and recreation businesses, which are both currently limited to 50% capacity.
  • Indoor and outdoor pools, which are both currently limited to 50% capacity.
  • Indoor catered events, funerals, memorial services, performances, and political activities will be limited to 50% of a room’s capacity, up to 250 individuals.  Beginning on Wednesday, May 19, the 250-person limit will remain in place, but there will be no percentage-based capacity restrictions. Individuals and groups will need to remain six feet apart. 

Indoor large venue capacity:  The capacity limit for indoor large venues will increase from 20% to 30% and the definition of a large venue would shift from those with 2,500 fixed seats to those with 1,000 fixed seats. The requirement that individuals or groups of individuals that purchase tickets together remain six feet apart would remain in place.

Sweeney tackles warehouse sprawl

Senate President Steven M. Sweeney has introduced legislation designed to manage a surge in warehouse construction throughout New Jersey by requiring municipalities considering warehouse applications to consider impacts on adjacent municipalities by seeking their approval.  The bill, S3688, would also give greater authority to to county planning boards and the New Jersey State Planning Commission.

Sweeney and co-sponsor Senator Troy Singleton intend for the Legislature to play a meaningful role in regional economic development as well as mitigating the impacts of unchecked warehouse development on traffic, safety, quality of life, environmental justice, and sustainable planning.

Respected sustainability think tanks such as NJ Future have written extensively about warehouse sprawl and have called for a coordinated regional and statewide approach that incentivizes development in designated redevelopment areas; emphasizes vertical construction; and enhances the use of rail for goods movement.

S3688 was recently considered by the Senate Urban & Community Affairs Committee and while the bill did not advance, Sweeney and Singleton have expressed that the Legislature will continue to spotlight this important issue.

T-Mobile's Builder recognized as telecom leader

We've always known that T-Mobile executive Jane Builder is one of the most influential and effective operators in the wireless telecommunications industry.  Now, one of the region’s most read publications has reached the same conclusion.

Builder was recently named by City & State New York as #7 on the publication’s 2021 Telecommunications Power 50 list.   The long-time industry veteran and staunch advocate for 5G expansion and wireless accessibility across the region “lives and breathes” wireless.

NorthStar is proud to support T-Mobile’s efforts to upgrade and expand its network across the region and we are thrilled to share the news of Builder’s recognition.

Cabinet member flaunts dance moves


New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Joseph L. Fiordaliso has made a name for himself during Governor Phil Murphy’s first term, driving the Murphy Administration’s clean energy agenda and helping to advance major investment in offshore wind and solar energy.  Fiordaliso can add another feather in his cap - that of dancing cabinet member.

Fiordaliso took to Facebook on April 22nd to celebrate Earth Day.  In a social media post that is sure to go viral, Fiordaliso touts the importance of a 100% clean energy future while grooving along to music in Astaire-like fashion.

Fiordaliso walks - or dances - viewers “through the many ways we’re building a #StrongerFairerNJ on our journey to 100% clean energy” during the 30-second video.  We understand that BPU Chief of Staff Christine Sadovy was behind the camera; unclear if she played a role in the choreography.