TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey is lifting some restrictions on outdoor gatherings and campgrounds as we head into the Memorial Day weekend. But the state is facing an economic crisis.
New Jersey Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio details what officials are calling the financial crisis that follows the COVID-19 health crisis.
“Ten billion dollars, that is a jaw-dropping figure,” Muoio said.
With revenues like sales tax down by as much as 33%, the state projects at least a $10 billion deficit over the next 13 months.
Officials say, without significant federal aid, they will have to cut programs and possibly furlough state workers.
“I point this out not to be a doomsayer, but to underscore some extremely difficult decisions will have to be made in the weeks and months ahead, decisions no one wants to make,” Muoio said.
The economic picture for the state, businesses and residents all depend heavily on the speed and effectiveness of the COVID-19 recovery.
To that end, Gov. Phil Murphy further eased some restrictions Friday by increasing the size of permissible outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 people.
“So if you were looking forward to gathering with your neighbors for a Memorial Day cookout, you may do so, so long as social distancing and personal responsibility remain the order of the day,” Murphy said.
State officials are not requiring, but strongly encouraging everyone to wear face masks in public as they try to avoid a resurgence of the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 11,000 New Jerseyans to date.
“We all mourn with those left behind, and this weekend, let’s take moment to say a prayer for them as we remember our fallen military heroes especially,” Murphy said.
In addition to loosening outdoor gathering restrictions to 25 people, all public and private campgrounds may open immediately for Memorial Day weekend.