The past week has brought good news and a sliver of hope to businesses that were forced to shut down in March and have patiently — or impatiently — waited for the pandemic to subside and state regulations to change.

First up were gyms and indoor amusement venues, which were permitted to open with capacity restrictions and other safety measures in place on September 1.

And the long-delayed restart of indoor dining is scheduled for Friday, September 4, just in time for Labor Day weekend. Restaurants had been prepared for the return of indoor dining in July, but that plan was abruptly halted following outbreaks tied to indoor dining in other states.

Restaurants will now be allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, with masks required and numerous other restrictions. Also included in the September 4 reopening are movie theaters, which can also operate at 25 percent capacity.

As the state Chamber of Commerce put it in its statement:

“The reopening of indoor dining, movie theaters, and indoor entertainment venues is a positive step for the New Jersey economy and the employees in these industries. While we believe it would have been desirable to reopen these businesses sooner, it is time to move forward.”

To the Editor: Here We Go Again

Editor’s Note: John Harmon, president and CEO of the Trenton-based African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, issued the following remarks in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

After the murder of George Floyd and the sustained global protest and the outpouring of corporations and philanthropist declaring their commitment to address the injustices and economic inequities of Blacks in America, we could have easily concluded that America was transitioning into a country that we all envisioned. However, with the recent shooting of Jacob Blake which resulted in him being paralyzed, from the waist down, what should we conclude? It would be inconsequential at this point to say that black people have had enough.

It is extremely encouraging to see professional athletes throughout the United States take a stand on the continued injustices imposed on black people, and to forfeit compensation and personal accomplishments to support their people. This is a true demonstration of the ideal of being “my brother’s keeper.”

Notwithstanding the statements and pledges of support that have been made to improve conditions for blacks, there is no formal agenda or legislation action that has been codified.

Yes, there is a formal campaign to change the leadership in Washington, D.C., however, neither party has declared a definitive Black Agenda that would substantially improve Health, Safety, Education, Economic Opportunities both for individuals and Business Owners. Yes, there have been a few initiatives to address many of these areas; however, things appear to be reverting to a past that many hoped we were moving away from. In most urban cities, wherein the power is controlled by party bosses, blacks are not a priority in any of the areas mentioned above, which is unfortunate, given how the black vote has placed many of these leaders in positions of power. The late Maya Angelou declared, that when people show you who they are believe them… it is difficult to determine who is truly committed to the interest of blacks in America, it appears that we are being played by both sides politically, and in spite of our collective best efforts, there still remains uncertainty at every turn. However, we cannot lose faith because that has always been our source of true optimism.

John E. Harmon

For more information on the African American Chamber visit

To the Editor: Say No to Solar Panels on Farmland

Thank you for publishing Michele Byers’ essay, “Grow Crops, Not Solar Panels, on New Jersey’s Best Farmland” (U.S. 1, August 26).

It takes 10,000 years for the rich soil of the Garden State to build up, a priceless resource for growing Jersey peaches where the pink skin seeps into the ripe fruit, organic beefsteak tomatoes, lima beans in Cape May County, white corn in abundance, blueberries and cranberries from in or near the Pinelands. Now that’s an aromatic rainbow!

We cringe when we see solar panels on farmland when they can and should be on warehouses, parking lots, landfills, and brown fields. Our farms and forests are crucial to a healthy future here in the most densely populated of the 50 states, even more crowded than Japan or India.

Since 1982 we had solar panels on our home. But this obsession with solar panels per se does not take into consideration an integrated approach of saving the “Garden” state.

Week after week, for more than three decades, Michele Byers reminds of parks, preserves, trails, the Highlands, and the incredible Jersey shore in compelling essays and urges to enjoy these treasures.

The ill-advised proposed legislation, S2605 must be fixed or opposed. Write your legislators.

Hella and Scott McVay


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