NJ rest stop closed due to COVID-19, others remain open
After a worker tested positive for COVID-19, the main building at the Joyce Kilmer Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike has been closed to the public.
Fuel sales will continue on site at the service area located between exits 8A and 9 northbound, but restrooms and food service will not be available until further notice.
The employee of service area contractor HMS Host has not been at work since March 23, according to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which is responsible for maintaining the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. Joyce Kilmer employees have been advised to self-quarantine for the next 14 days.
The Turnpike Authority was notified of the positive test results Monday evening. The facility was immediately closed and a licensed cleaning contractor was brought in to sanitize the building overnight, NJTA said.
But close to 20 other service areas remain open along the toll roads to satisfy your typical rest-stop needs — whether you're on the road in order to get to work or care for a loved one, or you're on the road just because you feel like rebelling against the governor's orders and the CDC's recommendations.
While it's possible rest stops will have random food options shut down during the public health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, the one-stops for road travelers are open for business.
"It's really important, we've learned, for truckers — truckers who are as busy as they were before," said Tom Feeney, NJTA spokesman.
Restrooms are fully functional at the service areas along the toll roads. Staff are taking extra to keep them clean, Feeney said.
The rest stops typically feature at least one grab-and-go concept such as a built-in convenience store or a centered kiosk. The counter-service options such as Sbarro and Burger King are only offering food to go, Feeney said.
"People are handed their food in bags and encouraged to leave," Feeney said. "Tables are still sitting there, so every now and again somebody may sit down at a table. And if they do, the cleaning crew goes and cleans up after they leave."
For now, the highways are not accepting cash payments at the toll plazas as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. Toll invoices are being mailed to the owners of any vehicles that pass through the toll locations without an E-ZPass tag.
On March 28, the federal government issued a travel advisory for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, urging residents to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days. An executive order signed by Gov. Phil Murphy a week prior ordered New Jersey residents to stay home, with the understanding that the roads will still be used for essential travel.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.