Our Members Create the “New Normal”
The Morris County Tourism Bureau is a membership organization consisting of local businesses involved in welcoming and serving visitors to Morris County. Our members have had to deal with a challenging business climate during COVID-19. Most of them have been creatively pivoting to serve their customers. Here are some of their success stories.—-Carol Barkin MCTB
Arts and Culture:
The arts have been hit particularly hard since the pandemic began. The Morris Museum immediately put many programs online. The museum is now open to visitors at a reduced capacity and you book a day and time slot. Among their most successful efforts are the outdoor musical programs on the parking deck. Groups of 2 patrons are given an 8 x 8 ft. marked off space. This has become “the venue” for listening to live music.
Centenary Stage Company in Hackettstown moved their Young Audience shows to the Front Porch and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey held sold-out performances in the Back Yard, both with smaller casts and shorter running times. Centenary’s Fringe Festival featured shows with one actor. Their Fringe Festival and Young Audience Series will continue into the fall. Opera at Florham is moving its upcoming “Our Three Tenors” program this September 20th to the Conservatory at Rod’s Grille and offering an optional dinner. MPAC is presenting Drive-In Concerts at Fosterfields—The Sensational Soul Cruisers (9/22) and Manhattan Comedy Night (9/24). Technology has evolved due to the pandemic and is moving beyond the Zoom experience (found to be lacking for entertainment) and there will be better quality sound and images from all these arts providers over the next months. List of MoCo Arts and Cultural Sites
Our local restaurants have been struggling and have just recently been allowed to reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity. Many of them closed during shelter-in-place, and a good portion of them immediately moved to curbside pick-up, take-out and delivery. They were allowed to reopen outdoors in June, and many set up tables on the sidewalks or in the streets, pitched tents, added landscaping touches, dining specials and live entertainment. You will see patio heaters springing up as the outdoor dining season continues into the fall. List of Morris County restaurants
We have many historical sites and museums in Morris County. Closed until July, they offered their services virtually by posting exhibits online, hosting virtual programs and even offering supplemental educational activities for families with children that could be downloaded or picked up curbside. Now many of them are open, with reduced capacity and days and hours of operation. The Morris County Historical Society at Acorn Hall has tours of their carriage house restoration and outdoor nature hikes. Fosterfields Living Historical Farm offers a farm tour that you pre-book, and drive through the farm in your own car.
Our lodging partners have been hard hit as a lot of business and leisure travel has been eliminated. At the start of COVID-19 many guests were doctors and nurses working in nearby hospitals. The next surge of guests were escapees from the hurricane-caused power outages. They have been following C.D.C. guidelines for hotels and try to serve guests the best they can. Many hotels have reduced their rates, especially during the week. For hotels with onsite dining, they do welcome the public to stop by for a meal. List of Morris County lodging options
The importance of fresh air and recreational opportunities has been key to surviving COVID-19. In Morris County we have many ways to get out, get moving and have fun in pursuit of good physical and mental well-being. Morristown National Historical Park, the Morris County Park Commission and the Lake Hopatcong area. And that’s just for starters. List of Morris County recreational sites
Many of our members who provide services to the community have been open for business, but in a contact-less way. Recently they have been phasing back to the new normal. This includes the Morristown and Morris Township Library which just opened for patrons, but with reduced days and hours of operation. They had been very active in providing Zoom opportunities and curbside pick-up of books and materials, and will continue these services, as well as welcoming you back to browse the stacks. List of Morris County service organizations
Our retail members were forced to close and pivot to online and contact-less service. They changed up their way of doing business by taking custom orders, offering curbside pick-up, online catalogs, and virtual programming. Now that retail is open, at reduced indoor capacity, these members have months of sales to make up. Our member Just Jersey remained open during shelter-in-place for online ordering, pick-up and delivery. When you buy from them, you are supporting all New Jersey artisans and purveyors. Please patronize our retail members. List of Morris County shops