Fed-up NJ business owners to protest Murphy’s restrictions
MORRISTOWN — A new group is taking to the streets on Sunday in protest of continued and additional restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
We the People NJ hopes the two-hour event catches the attention of concerned residents elsewhere and launches similar events across the Garden State.
The group wants Gov. Phil Murphy to know that they are unhappy with restrictions on businesses and that owners should have the right to keep their operations open as long as they'd like.
"The message is that we want to take responsibility for ourselves at this point," said Heather Darling, the elected Republican county surrogate and a small business owner in Morris County. "They feel that that personal responsibility has been usurped far too long by these executive orders that have continued for the better part of a year for this point."
In November alone, executive orders from Murphy have restricted bars and restaurants from serving customers indoors past 10 p.m., permitted counties and towns to set an 8 p.m. curfew on nonessential businesses, and reduced indoor and outdoor gathering limits. Permitted indoor capacity for dining establishments, meanwhile, remains at 25%.
"If I have a business and I want to open my business, and you want to come to my business, why should we not be able to transact?" Darling said.
Darling said the group suggests there's no need for an additional lockdown in the face of surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — instead, those most at risk can take the necessary precautions and it can be business as normal for healthy individuals.
We the People NJ's march, promoted as a "peaceful protest," is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Nov. 22. It'll run from Morris Township's police department to Morristown Town Hall.
Darling said the group wants this event and potential future events to occur on Sundays because that may offer the best opportunity for people to join.
The group is also hoping to squeeze in Sunday's event before outdoor gatherings are reduced from 500 to 150 the following day. Murphy's executive orders exempt political and religious activities from the outdoor capacity limits, including when it gets lowered to 150 on Monday.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story should have noted that Heather Darling is an elected official.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.