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March 18, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  


This week's Road Warrior is being sent a day early as it contains critical updates.
I know there is a lot of news to unpack in the past week; we are doing our best to deliver you up-to-date and reliable information as news continues to unfold. This is what we're doing to keep you all informed as quickly as possible: in addition to our online email communications, make sure you keep checking back to our Coronavirus page for updates. We are updating this continually as news becomes available. Also, if you are on Twitter follow us at @NJGCA_
This is unprecedented for every one of us. None of us have any experience dealing with anything like this. Everything that we do and that government does is done in uncharted waters. People are using their experiences and judgments to make the best decisions, and there will be many wrong decisions; some may say it was wrong for us not to be in this mode of emergency 3 or 4 weeks earlier. 
Now, how is all of this affecting your business and what is the best information that we can give to you? Here are the issues at hand that we must immediately address:
1. Does your business have to close or are you able to remain open for your customers?
2.  How does all of this affect your employees?
But first, let's get into the steps the state has made in the Executive Order issued Monday. Here is a run-down of roughly the steps the state is taking to try to remedy the situation and stop the spread of the virus:  
  • All "non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment" businesses may only operate from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM as long as they limit their occupancy to no more than 50 people. This would apply to auto repair businesses.
  • "Essential businesses" are excluded from this directive. This includes grocery/food stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores, gas stations, healthcare facilities and ancillary stores within healthcare facilities.
    • Gas stations and food stores may operate beyond the hours listed above. Food stores may include convenience stores, however, if your stores have seating for customers, these must be blocked off to prevent customers from sitting down to eat.
  • No municipality, county, or any other agency or political subdivision may enact or enforce any order, rule, regulation, ordinance, or resolution which will or might in any way conflict the Executive Order released
In the past few days, many local governments have proposed enacting their own set of orders to try to "flatten the curve" of the virus spreading; the most notable being Bergen county. On Monday night, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco released a county-wide executive order that is far stricter than the governor's order. However, the next morning the order was delayed until Saturday at 8 AM after significant pushback from both the governor's office and the business industry. The order would have enacted the following:
  • The total closure of all non-essential businesses until further notice
  • Gas stations and "food stores" were deemed essential, however, they would only be allowed to sell "food and health care products"
  • Auto repair businesses would only be deemed essential if they are attached to a gas station
  • Any gathering of more than four people would be banned, and a total curfew would be enacted at night
NJGCA is working on trying to amend the above order with county officials so that auto repair shops can remain open and convenience stores will be able to sell all of their products while they are open. We have many members contacting us concerned with how this will affect them. We have reached out to Bergen county officials, the governor's office, and we are even working with our coalition partners in Washington D.C. to be certain that any federal declarations or state declarations will supersede Bergen County's actions. As it turns out Congress is considering several Corona Virus actions as we speak. We already believe that the governor's executive order supersedes Bergen counties actions, and we encourage you to CLICK HERE and print the governor's executive order and make sure you have it on hand should any official come to your gas station, auto repair shop, or convenience store, or should any confusion arise. It appears as if many municipalities want to adopt their own rules and it will be very hard for us or you to comply with a myriad of 565 different town and 21 county ordinances, therefore it is imperative that the governor's executive order is what we abide by.
Because we recognize this could be an opportunity to at least permit self-serve on a temporary basis, we have reached out to the governor's office and leadership in the legislature requesting that during the state of emergency the laws that prohibit self-serve be suspended. We actually began that process last Monday before we left for Washington DC.  Although there is a legitimate concern that as an industry we will be confronted with a situation where our employees may be sick, quarantined, or unable to work because they are caring for other family members; there is a very real possibility on the horizon if the self-serve laws are not suspended we would in effect be forced to close our gas stations. This could present a problem for all motorists and in particular, emergency or essential services that are still operating and will require fuel for their vehicles. 
Since we have been communicating this to the governor's office, 15,000 New Jersey residents filed for unemployment in one day, crashing the entire unemployment system on Tuesday. It is being pointed out to us that it is likely that we may have more people available to us to work as gas attendants than we have had in many years.
Another point that we've been making is that customers have been trying to pump their own gas because they are afraid of interaction with gas attendants and exposure to the Coronavirus. I believe that this is another valid position for us to advocate to have the self-serve law suspended.
Here's what I need to continue advocating this to the governor: I need members (YOU) to identify customers that don't want to be face-to-face with their gas attendants or hand gas attendants their credit cards.  Would they be willing to express that feeling in a communication to the governor and legislators as well as speak to reporters? You must identify these people to me by emailing Michelle at michelle@njgca.org. If each of you can identify two or three of these customers who are willing to contact the governor to express their position and also speak to the press, it will be extremely helpful to bolster our position. 
Additionally, we are getting a better picture as to what actions the State and Federal governments are planning to do to help your business and your employees, though virtually all of it is still very much up in the air. First off, the State has put together 2 different sites dealing with the various paid sick leave and paid family leave laws designed to answer your questions as it relates to coronavirus. CLICK HERE to see their site designed for employers and CLICK HERE to see their site designed for employees (you may want to share this with your employees).
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a large bill to address some of the concerns out there, but the Senate has not moved it as of this writing. There are a variety of concerns with the bill, and it's not clear what issues will be dealt with in separate legislation (there has been a lot of talk about just mailing every American a $1,000 check, or something similar), whether they will try to amend the current bill, or whether they will move the current bill with flaws and then fix them in a future bill once they have a better handle on the problems.
One provision would require all businesses with fewer than 500 employees to give out 14 days of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of leave at 2/3 pay, with the promise that the Federal government will reimburse employers for it. The main concern raised by that is how and when those repayments will be made, there has been talk of tax credits, but for many small businesses their federal tax liability may be far less than these salary costs. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) is working on this, as are other groups. We also do not yet know how these types of leave would interact with New Jersey's paid family leave program, in which salaries are paid by the State through a payroll tax.
At the State level, the General Assembly unanimously passed a package of new bills on Monday, with the state Senate planning to pass most of them on Thursday and send them to the Governor. Here is a quick breakdown of the bills which would affect you. 
  • A-3841/S-2300 would extend the due date for state income and corporate taxes to June 30, 2020. Federal income taxes have already been extended until July 14, 2020.
  • A-3843/S-2283 will mandate health insurance cover any costs for testing and telemedicine associated with coronavirus.
  • A-3844 would have mandated that for small businesses (under 100 employees) who had business interruption insurance on March 9th, their insurance must include the current pandemic as a covered peril. However, this bill was pulled from being voted on and its future is unknown.
  • A-3845/S-2284 authorizes the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to make grants and loans during the current state of emergency, including to small businesses for the purposes of making payroll. It would be up to the EDA to determine the criteria.
  • A-3846/S-2293 creates the "Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program", to allow individuals to recoup their actual lost wages due to an absence from work, as well as to assist employers who continue to pay wages to workers who have been ordered under quarantine. An employee would not qualify for the payments if they are receiving Unemployment Insurance payments.
  • A-3848/S-2301 would prohibit any employer from firing or refusing to rehire an employee if that employee cannot make it to work because they have coronavirus or are being quarantined. They would need a note from a doctor certifying that was the reason for their absence.
  • A-3865/S-2291 would prohibit retailers from accepting a customer's return of any food item during a state of emergency or for 30 days after it ends, out of fear the food items may be contaminated.
It's hard to ignore what is happening in the gasoline marketplace, and once again we are in uncharted waters. I am pleased to see that the marketplace is holding fairly steady on the street while wholesale prices have completely crashed and are flushing down the toilet. Yes, I have seen some downward movement, but surprisingly not nearly equal to the decreases in rack prices. The margins you are experiencing are also unprecedented, and quite frankly, I hope they get even bigger. This is because once the wholesale prices start rising, you will eventually be squeezed even harder because your customers will have experienced difficult economic circumstances, and may not even have a job. You will need any cash that you can reserve now to survive later. That's how a marketplace works. You capitalize now when you can, because today's feast is assuredly going to be tomorrow's famine. 
Having said all of the above, and having a personal interest and strong instinct based on my history and experience in this business, I need to reassure all of you that when everything settles you will be OK. Not only will you be OK, but you are going to be able to look back on the difficulties, the tough experience, the burdens, and the fears of this whole episode and you will feel very good about yourself and very proud of yourself because you prevailed and got through it all. You may curse me as you slug it out through all of the difficulties you will be facing, but I hope you have enough faith in me to believe the words that I have just written. Please stay tuned; the entire NJGCA staff is working remotely from their homes if you need to reach any of us. We are monitoring every aspect of this crisis and will report to you as quickly as necessary. It is your job to stay tuned and pay attention. Please take all of the advised precautions and keep you, your families, and your employees safe. 

Be Well -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 4900 Route 33 West, Wall Township, NJ 07753

Two-Day Emissions Inspector Training Class
April 22nd & 23rd

Want your technicians to become a NJ Emissions Inspector? We can help!

Our new two-day class will provide all the information for becoming a NJ Emissions Inspector. Day one will consist of written test training and the State will administer the written test the very same day at our offices. Day two will be a hands-on training course to prepare you for the hands-on test. Class will run from 7:00am to 4:00pm on day 1. Class will begin at 12:30 PM on day 2. Cost is $479 for members.

April class registration click here




  News Around The State  

N.J. Gas Prices May Plummet To $1.25 A Gallon Due To Coronavirus, Expert Predicts
We've already seen the impact of the novel coronavirus on transit ridership and traffic. Now, experts are predicting the same is about to happen at the gas pump, with what might be the biggest demand collapse since the late 1960s. Drivers in New Jersey could see prices drop to $1.25 a gallon for regular gas by Easter Sunday, said Tom Kloza, Oil Price Information Service global petroleum analyst. That's a price range that we haven't seen since early 2016 when the lowest price in the state reached $1.29 a gallon. Employees working from home, voluntary curfews and the start of "shelter in place" mandates such as Hoboken's and San Francisco's are contributing to the drop in demand for gas, he said. Traffic has steadily dropped on highways during rush hour as more employees are told to work from home to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Trump Invokes Defense Production Act As Coronavirus Response
President Trump announced Wednesday that he will invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA), which would allow the administration to force American industry to manufacture medical supplies that are in short supply in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals, health workers and state and local officials have said they are quickly running out of personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks, gowns and gloves, that are crucial to keeping doctors and nurses on the front lines of the pandemic safe. "There's never been an instance like this where no matter what you have it's not enough," Trump said at a White House briefing with reporters. "If we need to use it, we'll be using it at full speed ahead," he said.

Oil Falls 24% In 3rd Worst Day On Record, Sinks To More Than 18-year Low
Oil dropped 24% to a more than 18-year low on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sap demand for crude, and as rising worries about a global recession lead to fears of longer-term demand destruction. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 24.4%, or $6.58, to settle at $20.37 per barrel, its lowest level since Feb. 2002. At the low of the day, the contract hit $20.06. It was WTI's third worst day on record. International benchmark Brent crude shed 14.1%, or $4.07, to trade at $24.67, its lowest level since 2003.

N.J. Businesses Hit With 80 Warning Letters For Price Gouging During Coronavirus Crisis
New Jersey is issuing 13 subpoenas and sending more than 80 warning letters to businesses suspected of illegally raising prices amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state attorney general's office announced Tuesday."We are taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to consumer complaints about price gouging and other abuses," state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. Protecting residents from businesses "who seek to prey on them financially" was the top priority, said Paul Rodríguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. The department has received 619 complaints so far, more than double the total less than a week ago.

Coronavirus: Unemployment System Crashes As Hundreds Of Thousands In NJ Are Without Jobs
Hundreds of thousands of people across New Jersey are suddenly without jobs, causing the state's unemployment insurance system to crash while small-business owners wonder whether they can recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis and legislators consider relief. . .State officials have said that some aid for workers to pay rent could come through the state Department of Community Affairs. State legislators are considering bills that would forestall foreclosures and allow workers to reclaim some unpaid wages. The state is also trying to allow people quicker access to unemployment insurance, experts said. State officials said Tuesday that there were 15,000 new applications for unemployment insurance on Monday before the state system crashed, and that there has been a 12-fold increase in such submissions.

State Confident Significant Aid Packages Are Coming For Employers
Gov. Phil Murphy and Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo both encouraged employers to pay their employees - saying both parties would benefit in the long run. The pair, speaking at the state's daily briefing, said the state is facing unprecedented times. Asaro-Angelo said the Department of Labor & Workforce Development has seen a 12-fold increase in applications for benefits in the past week - a number that temporarily crashed the state's online system. Asaro-Angelo preached patience. "We understand there is uncertainty and anxiety out there," he said. "Workers and businesses each have a part to play to ensure we all get through this crisis together." Asaro-Angelo said the continuation of payment to workers is key because it keeps the economy moving. It also will enable employers to qualify for federal reimbursement.

You Can Take An Extra 90 Days To Pay Your Taxes Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Taxpayers can take some extra time to pay the taxes they owe to the Internal Revenue Service as the nation copes with the spreading coronavirus. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during the administration's daily coronavirus briefing that taxpayers can defer paying any taxes they would owe on April 15 by 90 days interest-free and penalty-free. Mnuchin said taxpayers should try to make the April 15 deadline, but they could take the extra time and avoid penalties and interest charges for any money they owe.

Bergen Executive Tedesco: Implementation of Executive Order 2020-1B Postponed Until 8am Saturday (Updated)
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco on Tuesday announced that the implementation of Executive Order 2020-1B (PDF below) will be postponed until Saturday, March 21st at 8 a.m. in order to provide additional clarity and to be in conjunction with state government. The County aspects of the Executive Order will stay in effect.

Bergen Exec's 'Moral Authority' Order To Shut Malls, Businesses Postponed Until Saturday
The morning after Bergen County Executive James Tedesco cited a "moral authority" to shut down county malls and non-essential businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus, his office now says the closures will be postponed until Saturday so their can be coordination with state government. Tedesco announced the near-total retail shutdown during an emotional press conference Monday, saying he believed the rules would save lives and daring businesses to sue him over the order. His office delayed the move in a two-sentence press release issued Tuesday morning that says the change will "provide additional clarity and to be in conjunction with state government." The whiplash moves are sure to add to the anxiety of retailers and consumers already fearful over the spread of the coronavirus. State officials say there are 178 cases statewide. Bergen County has been hit the hardest, with 61 residents testing positive.

Single-Use Products Now in Big Demand
Just as the foodservice industry began actively working to eliminate single-use items-such as disposable cups, containers and plastic bags-along comes coronavirus. The new pandemic has thrown a wrench into the reusables movement, reports Nation's Restaurant News. Although numerous foodservice providers had begun moving away from disposable materials, they've had to rethink their policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. . .C-stores also are restricting use of bring-your-own cups. 7-Eleven said it would temporarily discontinue the use of personal cups for hot and cold dispensed beverages but would still honor the discount for anyone who brings in a personal cup to participating stores. Casey's said it haS temporarily discontinued the use of refillable mugs and cups in its stores in the interest of the wellbeing of guests. Hy-Vee also announced a similar move, saying "we need our customers to use a new cup each time."

Sweeney Urges Businesses to Stand by Employees
In an urgent letter to New Jersey's business community today, Senate President Steve Sweeney implored employers of the state to stand with their employees through the public health crisis brought on by the coronavirus.

N.J. Assembly Passes Coronavirus Bills To Help Workers Who Will Lose Wages, School Kids
The New Jersey Assembly passed a wide-ranging package of bipartisan bills Monday in response to the growing coronavirus outbreak to assist the people, schools, businesses and local governments in the state grappling with the medical and financial impacts of the public health crisis. The more than two dozen measures, which quickly went through two committees Monday before votes in the full Assembly, target people losing wages as more and more businesses close temporarily and social distancing wipes out commerce, and the closed schools attempting to meet new nutritional and educational demands.

Saudi-Russia Oil War May Be Bad News For Big Oil But It's Good News For Drivers | Mulshine
Chief oil analyst Denton Cinquegrana gave me an overview of the factors that may push prices at the pump to near-record levels in the coming months. It's a simple matter of supply-and-demand, Cinquegrana said "There was this demand shock from the coronavirus coming with the supply shock," he said. The demand shock is simply explained. Lots of public events have been canceled and lots of people are being told to work from home. The economy is slowing and people are driving less. The supply shock is a bit more complicated. It starts with a major development in the oil business that went largely unreported amid all the other news: In February, the United States reached its all-time high in oil production at more than 13 million barrels a day.

N.J. Senate Postpones Next Week's Hearings Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
With New Jersey continuing to deal with the widespread impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the state Senate has postponed hearings on new legislation it had scheduled for next week. The committee meetings the upper house of the state Legislature had planned for Monday and Thursday will be rescheduled for the morning of Monday, March 23 at the Statehouse in Trenton, Senate President Stephen Sweeney announced Friday.

Gas Prices Dropping Drastically In N.J. Amid Spread Of Coronavirus
As coronavirus causes New Jersey to rapidly grind to a standstill, with schools closing and major sporting events and parades canceled, there's at least one bright side: Gas prices are dropping. AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $2.39, down seven cents ($2.46) a gallon from last Friday, and down 16 cents ($2.55) a gallon when compared to 2019.

Lawmakers, Advocates Navigate Around Virus Concerns at Budget Hearing
A state Senate panel held a second public hearing on the state budget Thursday. While some time went to discussing coronavirus precautions for future stops along the way to developing Trenton's spending plan for the coming year, it was mostly business as usual. . . Critics of the governor's proposed $1.65 per pack boost in the cigarette tax also got their shot, maintaining the projected revenue was likely illusory. "Bottom line, my members think this is nuts," said Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association. "And here's why it's nuts. We're going to lose a tremendous amount of revenue into the state of New Jersey if we increase the tax. We're not going to realize any increase in revenue because of that tax increase. We have been selling for a long time, a lot of our volume of cigarettes to New York and New York is going to stop buying them from us."


  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  
Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.


  Member Benefit Partner Message Board  



  Classifieds: For Sale and Help Wanted Ads  



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New! Parts For Sale: Incon TS-1000 tank monitor works well just taken out of service. Printer is aprox 2 months old. Also, Incon 8, tank probes. System replaced because on an Exxon upgrade. Call John Twin Towers Exxon (201) 224-8444