Leading N.J. sportsmen group calls on Murphy to reopen sporting goods stores

TRENTON, N.J. – The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) called on Governor Phil Murphy this week to add sporting goods stores to the list of businesses permitted to operate during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

“We disagree on many policies, but now is the time to come together – and New Jersey’s sportsmen are on board with social distancing.” said NJOA spokesman Cody McLaughlin in a Thursday release. “We as a group are uniquely situated to practice this important mitigation tactic, and a lake, river or hunting blind is a perfect place to do it. We’re committed to being ‘social distancing champions’. We urge the Governor to continue to support hunting and fishing and reopen small mom and pop tackle shops by appointment or with strict occupancy guidelines so that we can continue to enjoy these sports through this trying time.”

Governor Murphy issued his initial executive order shuttering retail stores back on March 21st, but he’s recently reversed himself in a few instances and even allowed gun retailers to reopen with similar restrictions to those proposed by NJOA.

It’s estimated that 17,000 New Jersey jobs are directly tied to the Garden State’s $1.26 billion hunting, fishing, and trapping industry. New Jersey has seen over 360,000 new unemployment claims since the COVID-19 crisis kicked into high gear three weeks ago. 

The Democrat governor inferred that social-distancing restrictions could last well into May in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night.