As Americans prepare for massive disruptions to their lives in response to the new coronavirus outbreak, gas and electric companies have agreed to suspend shut-offs.

“At a moment in time when protecting residents’ health and safety is of paramount importance, and especially when many are following guidance to practice ‘social distancing’ and spend more time at home, we must ensure that utility services are maintained to all residents,” Joseph L. Fiordaliso, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, said Friday.

All of the state's utilities companies that are regulated by the state have agreed to this policy.

“Waiving utility service disconnects is a way we can look out for each other, ensure every resident’s well-being, and continue strengthening Governor Murphy’s vision of a stronger and fairer New Jersey. I thank the utilities for coming together with us today to help achieve exactly that," Fiordaliso said.

The announcement came on the day that President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, freeing $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.

Trump also said interest on federally held student loans would be waived.

Democrats in Congress also were trying to get measures approved to provide sick pay for workers who are taking time away from jobs as well as funding to bolster unemployment benefits food programs for the needy.

Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday also said that the Motor Vehicle Commission would provide a two-month extension for all expiring driver's licenses, vehicle registrations and inspections. Someone with a document expiring on March 31, for example, will now have until May 31.

Murphy said the extension was to reduce the number of people needing to crowd into MVC offices.

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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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