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July 9, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  


Throughout the duration of the COVID crisis lock down, MVC has had a revised process in place for PIFs to obtain stickers for their shops.  Up to this point, that process has involved completing a form (which can be obtained online), then mailing the form and accompanying payment to Trenton for processing.  A week or two later, PIFs would receive their order in the mail.
As the State slowly begins to loosen restrictions and reopen brick n' mortar facilities, we have questioned if this process will remain the only way in which PIFs can obtain stickers; or if shop owners can physically go to the regional offices in Winslow, Westfield, and Asbury Park to buy stickers in person.  As of today, we have not received a definitive answer on this. 
MVC is in chaos and very unresponsive, due to furloughed state workers, and re-assignment of remaining workers. Every department is affected.  The reopening of MVC locations throughout the state has been less-than-ideal.  Massive lines, waiting times, and confusion are being experienced at every location.
MVC has got serious chaotic issues from the top of the organization right down into the field in every department of the commission. Cooperation and congeniality have been removed from their vocabulary. This is a trend that began when the new chief administrator took over two years ago, but has gotten exponentially worse with the Coronavirus situation.  There are several reliable and cooperative people still available to us, but they are so overwhelmed their response to us has been difficult.  We understand your frustration, it is part of our daily task to keep trying to get information from them, and we will gladly share it when we get it.
On Wednesday Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 163, changing some of the rules for face coverings. Face coverings are now required to be worn even outdoors when social distancing is not possible (such as in line at MVC apparently...). You can read the full order HERE. As with the indoor mandate, there are exceptions for health reasons and if the person is actively eating or drinking. Also of interest to many members is a clarification on the indoor mandate which reads:
""For indoor commercial spaces that are not open to members of the public, (this would be your repair shop), those spaces must have policies that at a minimum, require individuals to wear face coverings when in prolonged proximity to others."
This means that in areas of your business that are not open to the public, such as the repair shop floor or a store's back office, employees are not legally required to wear a mask unless they spend prolonged periods of time within six feet of other employees. You are of course free to continue requiring masks be worn at all times, and some employees may feel safer with such a requirement. If employees are regularly coming within six feet of each other as they do their work, then you are legally required to enforce mask wearing, even if customers are not supposed to enter the area.
Backlash from some has dominated the news recently. There have been videos taken by patrons showing customers refusing to wear masks and becoming belligerent and destroying property. New Jersey law states that if a customer verbally indicates to you that they have a health condition they are exempt from wearing the mask. You cannot ask them for any proof or further details. However, you are always allowed to refuse service to customers who are rude or potentially dangerous. The amount of backlash around wearing the mask could be the very reason the Governor signed the Executive Order in the first place. Have you had any bad experiences with customers refusing to put on face coverings and making a scene at your business? Has it happened just once or twice or is it a regular occurrence? Let us know how widespread the problem has been here in New Jersey by emailing Michelle@njgca.org.
Our members desire for motorists to be on the road and burning gasoline, wearing out tires, and brakes. We want people leaving their homes if they are staying within the confines of safe practices. Unfortunately, many including those visiting our shore from outside of NJ, are not adhering to the prescribed safe practices. The governor has rolled back openings as it relates to tourism, and that has a negative effect on our business. In the recent two weeks, we've had members contact us to say that their shops have been fully booked, as if someone flicked a switch on. Although gasoline consumption is still down considerably, it has made great progress getting back to normal. Although this is not part of a formal survey most people in conversation have indicated to us that gas volume is still down about 25%, but that is far better than being down 70% as had been reported in recent months.
A reminder that if you have not already received a Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan, the deadline to apply for one is August 8th. The Small Business Administration (SBA) released some statistics this week on the recipients of these loans. Nationally, nearly 5 million businesses have received one (the program is limited to businesses with fewer than 500 employees). In New Jersey, nearly 150,000 businesses have received one, 85% of the loans being under $150,000 (the loan amount is tied to payroll). Nearly a thousand businesses listing themselves as gas stations received one, with the average loan being about $25,000. About 1,300 auto repair businesses also received loans, the average being $63,000. Almost 700 convenience stores received loans averaging $20,000. If the loan received was under $150,000, then the name of the business was kept private.
A reminder that income and corporate taxes due to the state and federal governments for 2019 are due Wednesday July 15th. The deadline was extended from the traditional date of April 15th due to the coronavirus crisis, and has not been extended again (although you may be able to file for an individual extension if you haven't already filed).
One of the biggest priorities for the business community in this state and nationally is to give businesses a general immunity from frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19. It is increasingly expected that the immediate crisis caused by coronavirus passes, will cause a tidal wave of trial lawyers targeting businesses on behalf of their customers and employees who allegedly were endangered because of actions the business took or did not take. Even if a particular suit may not stand a chance of actually winning at trial, the mere threat of thousands of dollars in legal defense fees could often be enough to convince an innocent business owner to settle. No form of liability protection, however, would be a blanket immunity that eliminates all lawsuits. The employer needs to have acted in good faith to comply as best as reasonably possible with the health and safety standards set by the government at that time. A business's willful, wanton, or grossly negligent behavior would still be liable.
The best chance for this protection to take effect in New Jersey is for the federal government to pass a liability protection law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that liability protection is his highest priority in a new major piece of legislation addressing the coronavirus crisis, however he has also said that he is not convinced there needs to be a new federal bill at all. If there is to be one before the November election, it will likely be written and passed before the end of July, after which Congress breaks for the summer and shifts to full time campaigning. Getting liability protections passed in Trenton will be very difficult, but there are some rays of hope as several Democratic legislators (Senators Diegnan and Gopal and Assemblyman Freiman) have introduced legislation (S-2628, S-2634, A-4377) to provide blanket protections. NJGCA has been actively pursuing this legislation as part of a coalition that includes other small business trade associations.  We will keep you updated as there will come a time that we will need to alert you to contact your legislator.
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
September 16th & 17th, 2020

After a long delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, NJGCA is pleased to announce that our training classes will resume! If you, a colleague, or an employee technician wishes to become a NJ Emissions Inspector, we can help and now is your chance! NJGCA will offer a two-day class with all the information and training you need to become a NJ Emissions Inspector.
On day one you will receive in-class instruction from NJGCA's instructor. We will break for lunch (provided), and the State will administer the written test in the afternoon. On day two will go over the hands-on test at an emission inspection location to fully prepare you for the hands-on test.
In light of the current crisis, and to protect both students and staffers, all participants must wear facemasks at all times while on the premises and respect social-distancing guidelines.

September class registration click here



  News Around The State  

Employees Get a Sign of Thanks Amid COVID Chaos
Three weeks ago, Hillcrest Mobil/Tire gas station and repair shop owner Robert Twynam decided that he wanted to thank his employees for their hard work and dedication during the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak in New Jersey. As a team, they had taken safety precautions such as wiping down nozzles and handling customers from the passenger side window at the gas pumps and providing each technician with their own hand sanitizer and wipes in the repair bays in order to ease both customers and employees minds about contracting the virus. Robert wanted the sign of appreciation to be big and displayed publicly to thank his co-workers for their commitment and service to the community. Twynam said, "We are experiencing a time in which a lot of people out there are exposing themselves to this virus who had to be out working. A lot of people did that and I want to recognize that. As long as the community needs me, I stay open."

NJ MVC Offices Will Be Open Six Days A Week To Address Massive Backlog
To ease the backlog at the Motor Vehicle Commission, employees will be exempt from state furloughs, and MVC offices will be open six days a week. Gov. Phil Murphy announced the changes Wednesday while acknowledging that both he and Chief Administrator Sue Fulton are aware of the frustration many feel. Since Tuesday's reopening of MVC sites, lines of people have numbered in the hundreds, and locations throughout the state see patrons camping out in the hope of being able to complete their transactions.  Murphy said he expects delays to continue for the foreseeable future.

MVC Is A 'Free For All' With Fights, Long Lines As Agencies Reopen In N.J.
Before the doors even opened this morning hundreds of drivers were lined up waiting to get in to state Motor Vehicle commission agencies for the first time in three months, leading police to shutdown one MVC agency due to crowding and to breakup a fight at another agency. . .MVC officials are advising drivers to wait a week before attempting to go to an agency, according to a statement on the agency website. Throughout the state the situation and photos were the same Tuesday morning - lines of drivers wrapping around buildings and snaking up and down sidewalks at agencies before their scheduled 8 a.m. reopening time

Murphy: Don't Expect Any More Openings Anytime Soon
Gov. Phil Murphy isn't quite sure why the state's rate of transmission inched about 1.0 for the first time in 10 weeks. It could be related to not enough face coverings - or coming from people who spent time in hot spots around the country. This much is clear: Any thought of more openings in the state is now on hold. And will be for some time. "One thing that this leads to me is that we're not going to be jumping the gun on a whole lot more opening up steps right now," he said. "We're at where we're at now - and my guess is that we're going to be there for a bit." Murphy was speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing, shortly after announcing the state's RT - which is the number of new cases each existing case spawns - had been at 1.03 all weekend. Murphy's fear is that the RT will jump higher and that New Jersey will join other states that have been seeing huge increases in recent days and weeks.

Retailers Stress About Mask Enforcement
During lockdowns, customers expressed their appreciation for workers at grocery stores, convenience stores, drugstores and gas stations who continued to work amid the pandemic. But now, with states easing restrictions, many workers are facing extra stress because some customers refuse to comply with mandated face covering regulations, the Wall Street Journal reports. As a result, retail chains like 7-Eleven and CVS have to figure out how to enforce face covering rules after noncomplying patrons have assaulted security guards and clerks. For example, one unmasked customer threw a coffee cup at a 7-Eleven cashier who refused service, punching and kicking her.

Trump Signs Extension Of Ppp Small Business Coronavirus Relief Fund
President Donald Trump on Saturday signed into law a temporary extension of a subsidy program for small businesses battered by the coronavirus. The legislation extends the June 30 deadline for applying for the program to Aug. 8. Lawmakers created the program in March and have modified it twice since, adding money on one occasion and more recently permitting more flexible use of the funding despite some grumbling among GOP conservatives. About $130 billion of $660 billion approved for the program remains eligible for businesses to seek direct federal subsidies for payroll and other costs such as rent, though demand for the Paycheck Protection Program has pretty much dried up in recent weeks. The Democratic-controlled House voted on Wednesday to approve the extension of the program after the Republican-controlled Senate did the same.



  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.


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