What Gov. Murphy just suggested as MVC agencies reopened in N.J. with long lines

Posted Jul 07, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy said he sympathizes with the countless frustrated New Jerseyans who waited for hours in long lines — often outside in the heat — to obtain a new driver’s license or register their car as Motor Vehicle Commission services reopened Tuesday for the first time in more than three months.

“Nobody is happy to see that,” Murphy said during a television interview with CBS 2 News in New York City. “No one wants to be waiting in lines like that. So we have nothing but unending sympathy.”

Still, the governor said the lines are the result not only of “pent-up demand” but because a number of people showed up in person to deal with an issue they could handle online instead.

Going forward, Murphy encouraged residents to “step back,” visit NJMVC.gov, and “determine whether or not you need to be physically there.”

“A lot of folks are in line that don’t have to be in line, he said. “And that would be a huge game-changer for everybody.”

Many people waiting in the lines, however, said they were there because they have an in-person transaction that can’t be done on the state’s website.

Some people said it took up to eight hours to get what they came for. Others were turned away because of overcrowding.

Republicans blasted Murphy over the issues.

“Like most of the state, MVC has been closed down for almost four months,” state Sen. Kristin Corrado, R-Passaic, said. “During that time, they should have planned a strategy to deal with reopening, but today it is crystal clear they are unprepared. People, waiting for many hours to complete necessary transactions, are living a nightmare.”

The MVC re-openings came the same day Murphy’s administration said people traveling from three more states — Delaware, Kansas, and Oklahoma — should self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New Jersey to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading. That includes residents returning home from a trip.

In all, there are now 19 states on New Jersey’s out-of-state quarantine list. All have seen rising new cases lately.

State officials have said people bringing the virus from other states is one of the key reasons why New Jersey’s rate of transmission has jumped over 1 again — meaning, on average, every newly infected resident is now passing COVID-19 to at least one other person.

Asked if the quarantine will be enough to help reduce that spread, Murphy said: “I hope so.”

“We’re asking a big dose of personal responsibility, which New Jerseyans have been great at since Day 1 of this crisis,” he added.

With the rate rising, Murphy said Monday the state is pumping the brakes on taking more steps in its gradual reopening from months of lockdown restrictions.

But he said Tuesday he does not anticipate having to close any businesses that have already reopened.

“At the moment, no,” Murphy said. “But we’re watching that rate of transmission very, very carefully”

The governor also said he will have remarks Wednesday on requirements to wear masks in New Jersey.

“We’re gonna hit that hard tomorrow,” he said.

Murphy said Monday the state is considering requiring people in New Jersey wear face masks not just indoors but outdoors, too, when they’re in public and can’t practice social distancing. Currently, masks are only required indoors when in a public store or eatery.

New Jersey, a densely populated state of 9 million residents, has reported 15,281 known deaths attributed to COVID-19 — 13,425 lab-confirmed and 1,856 probable — with 173,878 known cases in a little more than four months since the state’s first case was announced March 4.

Officials on Tuesday reported 52 new deaths related to the virus and 310 new cases.

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