New Jersey auto dealerships are allowed to resume in-person sales starting Wednesday morning, Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.
The move follows that of several other states, including neighboring New York, that initially required showrooms to be closed when the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S. in March.
Murphy said at a Tuesday news conference that he intended to sign an administrative order allowing for in-person sales to resume at stores. Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, told Automotive News on Tuesday that he received a copy of the administrative order. It allows showrooms to reopen for appointment-only customers, with some other conditions.
New Jersey, with 606,967 new-vehicle registrations in 2019, according to IHS Markit, is among the nation's top 10 states for car and light-truck sales.
"We know this is an important step for dealerships and for people who need access to transportation, and it is unquestionably another step forward on our road back," Murphy said during the Tuesday briefing.
Dealerships in New Jersey have been limited to online sales and curbside deliveries since March. The state franchised dealership association has lobbied Murphy's administration to allow in-person sales appointments, contending that dealership showrooms are large enough to enable physical distancing and that service departments have followed health and safety protocols while staying open throughout the outbreak.
New Jersey's stay-at-home order will remain in effect while the state begins to loosen some restrictions on activity.
The state dealership association advised retailers Tuesday that requirements for distancing, personal protective equipment and cleaning and sanitizing will continue.
"I expect we're going to live with this normal for quite some time," Appleton said.