I have posted many updates over the last three months that have contained a great deal of information covering a host of different issues dealing with the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, and I hope they have been helpful. Whether you are a business or a resident looking for assistance or information, I urge you to look at all of them for valuable information. The Borough Council and I have been regularly engaging in weekly conference calls with State and County Officials about COVID-19 and working with emergency personnel around the clock to stay on top of these issues to keep you informed and to keep our community running smoothly.
Working with the State of New Jersey
Governor Murphy recently has signed a number of Executive Orders and Administrative Actions dealing with businesses and gatherings. If you would like to read all of the Governor’s Executive Orders in their entirety, you can click on the link for the full list. These orders pertain to a number of items including increasing the capacity for indoor and outdoor gatherings. Governor Murphy also has lifted his Stay-At-Home-Order. In these Executive Orders, there are also stipulations and restrictions for the opening of childcare centers, non-contact organized sports, non-essential retail, salons and barbershops and outdoor dining to name a few.
The Governor is finally allowing more businesses to re-open and lessening some restrictions as we are in his Phase 2 Re-Opening Stage but as I’ve relayed before, I feel it is not enough. In addition to relaying the concerns of our business community to the Governor’s Office multiple times over the last two months on our weekly Mayors’ Conference Calls, a few weeks ago I sent him a letter urging him to re-open our businesses. You can read my letter to the Governor here. Additionally, just last week, I helped write a collaborative letter with 20 other Ocean County Mayors urging the Governor to lift his restrictions and to open our economy, you can read our joint letter to the Governor here. Our businesses are smart and want to do the right things, the Governor needs to have the same faith in them that I have. I know our businesses can open safely, they are able and willing to do so with precautions in place to protect themselves and the public.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has also opened up another round of grants and expanded certain programs like the Micro Business Loan Program. For all grants from the NJEDA, please click here. Please be mindful that the first phase of grants maxed out quickly, so don’t delay. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) also can still be applied for as money is still available at the time of this update. You can click here for PPP information.
I’d like to share again with you the most important link I feel will benefit you and that is the NJ COVID-19 Information HUB. This website has been set up by the State of New Jersey and is your one-stop website for all issues whether you are an individual or a business. There are various portals on this site for general questions about COVID-19 itself, what to do if you are infected or think you are infected, financial assistance and grants for both individuals and businesses along with areas for a range of social services assistance including but not limited to food, mental health and domestic violence.
Working with Ocean County
If you would like information on how to make an appointment to get tested for COVID-19, please visit the Ocean County Health Department to make an appointment for the drive-thru testing site at Ocean County College. For links about services, documents, information and help from your Ocean County Government related to COVID-19, please visit the Ocean County COVID-19 Information Page.
Freeholder Vicari and other County Officials have announced that they are preparing to offer grants up to $10,000.00 for small businesses in our community by setting aside funds from the CARES Act. I would like to thank the Freeholders for looking out for small businesses. More information on how to submit and other requirements will be coming out shortly and I will relay them to you as I get them.
Our Ocean County Board of Freeholders are also making a concerted effort to fill out our Census forms. It is vital, especially for funding purposes, that all residents in Point Pleasant and Ocean County fill out the Census, you can still do so if you have not already by visiting the US Census 2020 website.
COVID-19 In Point Pleasant
In regard to positive cases of COVID-19 in our community, I’ve previously stated that as tests become more available and time moves on, we will inevitably have a rise in positive cases as with all municipalities in our State. The names, addresses and statuses of these individual positive cases will not be revealed due to laws protecting one’s medical history. Not even the Borough Council and I are privy to specific information. Only the total number of cases and now deaths in each municipality are available. Further, it should be noted that this is a running total from when testing began almost three months ago, this number does not reflect recoveries, the Ocean County Health Department has not yet started to subtract recovered cases from the total. You can see the total number of cases not just in Point Pleasant but in every municipality in Ocean County daily by clicking on the link to the Ocean County Health Department. You can also click on the NJ Department of Health page as well for State numbers. It should be noted that a large portion of our cases here in Point Pleasant have come from nursing homes and adult care facilities as with so many other communities. We know this because nursing homes and care facilities are required to report their numbers and that has become public information. These facilities house some of our most vulnerable residents and our thoughts and prayers are with them as they are with everyone.
In recent news articles, Governor Murphy has repeatedly stated that the number of new positive cases has slowed down and the effects of social distancing are being seen at the Jersey Shore. I can say that we are seeing the numbers here in Point Pleasant slow down as well. I am heartened by this, but that does not mean we can start being lax. We must all remain vigilant and do our part to help flatten the curve.
Food, Financial, Social Services Assistance & Help
Some of the challenges that this pandemic has presented us are not just financial. Some deal with having an adequate supply of food for families and seniors while others relate not just to physical health, but mental health as well. Some suffering from various addictions also need somewhere to turn to as being quarantined could have lasting implications. Others unfortunately could be faced with a situation involving domestic violence. In previous posts I shared some links to find assistance should you need them, you can revisit that post by clicking here. Ocean County is also helping to get food to senior citizens through the Ocean County Office of Senior Services. To volunteer or to help put seniors in need in contact with them, please click here.
For individuals looking for work, you are encouraged to check the NJ COVID-19 Information HUB Job Portal Site.
For businesses, please see above in the ‘Working With New Jersey’ Section about NJEDA and PPP programs.
Supporting our Local Economy
Our Point Pleasant Borough Chamber of Commerce has been doing an excellent job promoting local businesses that are able to open. I previously posted an update regarding this with links to help support those businesses. I ask you to revisit that post by clicking here. Our Chamber of Commerce is very active and is continually sharing local advertisements and specials, I urge you to continue to shop local whenever possible.
I have been urging the Governor’s Office on a weekly basis to re-open our businesses before it’s too late. In addition to our weekly conference calls, a few weeks ago I sent him a letter expressing the need to have faith in our small businesses. Just last week, I along with other Ocean County Mayors sent him a collaborative letter expressing the same. These are not big box stores or corporations, these are members of our community and should be trusted to protect not only their welfare, but the welfare of the members of our community as well.
Additionally, myself and the Borough Council are working with our Chamber of Commerce to come up with new ways to help bolster and promote our businesses as more and more open back up. One such way is to loosen some restrictions on our existing outside dining ordinance and rental policies. For restaurants that wish to have outside dining, you are encouraged to download a fill out an application here. We were one of the first in the area to have a local ordinance like this, our intent now is to streamline the process so local restaurants can serve customers without being hamstrung by capacity limits and other restrictions. This will be done in a safe and responsible manner and will allow restaurants to operate in a greater capacity and allow residents to enjoy themselves. These are temporary policies made to balance the needs of getting our local economy back on track with the needs of our residents. Further, the Borough Council and I are waiving the local permit fee.
COVID-19 rental restrictions have also been scaled back. Effective immediately, all Air B&B, VRBO’s and Short Term Rentals may resume as long as the rental term is for a minimum of at least 7 days. Further, hotels and motels may resume operation at 25% capacity, and then increase to 50% capacity starting June 22, 2020. Door-to-door solicitation is still prohibited.
We are also partnering up with our Chamber of Commerce to unveil a new marketing campaign. We will be organizing the “Shop, Dine and RE-Discover Point Pleasant” campaign over the next week. Please make sure to contact the Point Pleasant Chamber of Commerce if you would like to be a part of this. Going forward after that, there will be weekly ads from the Chamber going out to our community for businesses’ products, specials and services.
COVID-19 Related Scams
Unfortunately, even during a time of crisis there will be those that prey on the unsuspecting and vulnerable members of our society. It is important to remain vigilant and be able to recognize when someone is taking advantage of you. The NJ Attorney General and U.S. Attorney announced the creation of a State of New Jersey and Federal joint task force to investigate and prosecute those who are exploiting this pandemic. If you believe you are being victimized or know of someone who is, you can call the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s National Hotline at 866-720-5721.
Municipal Operations in Point Pleasant
As the Governor is finally easing some capacity restrictions, we are finalizing plans to re-open Borough Offices to the public for daily business and will have those plans finalized shortly. Even though municipal offices in Borough Hall are still closed to the public for daily operations, we are still performing essential functions to keep our community running smoothly. All essential functions can still be accomplished either by mail, email or going onto our website. There is also a drop box in the Court Lobby where residents can drop off payments, permits and other documents to the appropriate department.
Residents should take note that twice a week Summer trash pick-up has commenced. If you have a question about where you fall on the pick-up schedule, you can call public works at 732-892-1287 or check the Public Works section of our website.
I’m pleased to announce our basketball and tennis courts along with our skate park will be re-opening at the end of this week. The Governor’s Office has stated these facilities can be opened, but social distancing is still required. The playgrounds will remain closed per the Governor’s Executive Orders. We are pleased that since the beginning of this pandemic, we chose a balanced approach and while other towns closed all of their facilities, we still kept our open space fields operational for passive recreation. For youth sports organizations looking to permit use of the fields, our Recreation Department will be reaching out to the heads of each organization to begin the process shortly.
I encourage you to check our website often for changes to any services and to revisit my past updates on usage of our beaches, parks and facilities.
For up-to-date emergency information, I ask that you follow the Borough of Point Pleasant’s Office of Emergency Management Facebook Page and The Borough of Point Pleasant’s Police Department’s Facebook Page. You can also sign up for free NIXLE text message alerts by clicking the link on our Borough website’s home page.
The Borough Council and I would like to again thank our employees for their dedication and hard work in these trying times. Our staff at Borough Hall and Public Works have truly shown what it means to be public servants. We would also like to thank our emergency personnel as well. Our Police, Fire and First Aid Departments have been working harder than ever and we cannot thank them enough for putting themselves on the front lines of this pandemic
The Borough Council and I would like to also once again thank our community for your patience and understanding during these trying times. I constantly say there is no better place to be than “The Boro” and the way we have all pulled together recently proves that.
Mayor Robert A. Sabosik