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New Jersey small businesses can begin applying for lease relief
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New Jersey small businesses can begin applying for lease relief

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Election 2021 New Jersey

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J. arrives for a gubernatorial debate with Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli at Rowan University's Pfleeger Concert Hall Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, in Glassboro, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, Pool)

New Jersey small businesses and nonprofits can begin applying for lease relief, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

The Small Business Lease Grant Program is part of the state Economic Development Authority’s $100 million Main Street Recovery Program. Small business owners can apply at njeda.com.

The program provides grant funding to cover a portion of lease payments for businesses and nonprofits leasing new or additional space.

Applicants are eligible to receive two grant awards of 20% of the total annual lease payment or grant funding to offset a portion of lease payments. Applicants must meet the federal Small Business Administration’s definition of a small business — fewer than 1,500 employees and no more than $38.5 million in average annual receipts.

Murphy also announced Wednesday that all new state government contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested weekly. The requirement does not apply to contractors already under existing contracts because the state cannot alter those agreements.

He said he couldn’t specify how many state contractors would be affected but estimated it would be in the “hundreds or thousands.”

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“We want to make sure, particularly this week as we have gone back more full bore back into the office … that this is the right time to do this,” Murphy said during his weekly COVID-19 media briefing. “Again, it’s prospective. We can’t undo contracts that exist, but we can mandate going forward that you have to be vaccinated or subject yourself to tests.”

The order mirrors other executive orders Murphy’s signed requiring shots or tests for state workers and school employees.

The requirement comes just days after a deadline for school and state workers to be vaccinated or undergo coronavirus testing kicked in, but Murphy said he didn’t have details about how many chose which option.

Murphy also denounced “trespassing” by protesters at the homes of politicians during election season, referring to the 12 protesters arrested Monday for demonstrating at and refusing to leave the home of U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th.

“If people want to protest and they’re not trespassing, as a general matter, then they have that right,” said Murphy, who added he’s had people protest outside his home before. “But there is a line that I think folks have to make sure they don’t cross when they aren’t trespassing. And I think language is on that list, and I think folks have a right to protest and have to do it the right way.”

Murphy also answered a question pertaining to mask-wearing for actors on stage for school plays. He said common sense applies in the matter of requiring actors to wear masks while performing indoors, especially because no vaccine is currently available for children under 12. That includes if the performance can allow social distancing, or if the performance requires excessive aerobic activity.

“Wearing these in school, none of us support that with any amount of joy, but we’re doing it because we know it’s the right thing to do for public health,” he said. “But we also know this is not forever and always.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact John Russo: 609-272-7184

jrusso@pressofac.com

Twitter: @ACPress_Russo

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I graduated from Rowan University in 2011 where I studied journalism. I covered local high school and college sports at the South Jersey Times and Vineland Daily Journal. I have been a sports reporter with The Press since July 2013

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