By Howard Monroe

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CBS) — Lawmakers in Trenton are set to vote on a bailout for small businesses closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of them say they can reopen and keep their customers safe. One small business owner is going to the extreme to make sure he’s heard.

Matt Scarfo is on a 54-mile run from Morristown to Trenton.

“I really did this for the people that are having a hard time holding it together,” he said, “whether it’s the head of household, whether it’s business owner, whether it’s somebody who’s had their dream dashed by the lockdown.”

Scarfo owns Full-Time Fitness in Morristown. The gym has been closed since mid-March because of Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home orders.

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While the father of three understands the need for public safety and health, he says small businesses are taking the brunt of this coronavirus pandemic.

“Small businesses really run the economy and it runs the country,” Scarfo said, “and I think it’s almost as if we’re trying to be convinced otherwise.”

Meanwhile, a recent poll of New Jersey business owners shows that they think they can reopen safely and maintain social distancing.

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The poll by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association shows 70% of the state’s business owners think they can operate safely under the CDC’s guidelines.

But to help the many small businesses that are shutdown, the New Jersey Assembly is set to vote Thursday on $100 million in loans. Restaurants, bars, hotels and other small hospitality businesses could apply for the zero-interest loans.

“Many of these restaurants, bars, hotels will never be able to recover when we get back to the new normal because normal is done,” Assemblyperson Raj Mukherji said.


For Scarfo, he says he’s ready and able to get back to work when he’s permitted.

“If we can keep people safe in Walmart practicing social distancing measures, then we can do that in small businesses as well,” Scarfo said.