Restaurants and bars in New Jersey will no longer be able to resume indoor service on Thursday as planned, Gov. Phil Murphy announced. The governor on Monday said the pause of this part of the state’s reopening plan comes as coronavirus cases spike across the country and more photos and videos of maskless crowds at establishments have surfaced. “It brings me no joy to do this, but we have no choice,” Murphy said during a press briefing.
Earlier this month, Murphy said indoor dining, casinos, amusement parks, and waterparks could all reopen at limited capacity on July 2, ahead of the busy Fourth of July weekend. But because of the current situation in other states, like Florida, Texas, and Arizona, now considered to be COVID-19 hot spots, Murphy said the state will not push forward “with what is, in effect, a sedentary indoor activity.”
Other indoor businesses that were set to resume this week will be allowed, including museums, libraries, aquariums, and indoor recreation spots, like batting cages and boardwalk arcades.
In addition to the growing number of cases in other parts of the country, Murphy also said “scenes” on social media have shown overcrowding, a “complete disregard for social distancing,” and very few face coverings. “The carelessness of one establishment can completely undo the good work of many others,” Murphy tweeted on Monday. “We will not tolerate outlier bars and restaurants – and, frankly, patrons – who think the rules don’t apply to them.”
A similar rollback on reopening is expected in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said they will reexamine whether restaurants will be able to resume indoor service, part of New York’s phase three of reopening planned for July 6. The officials said the pause of phase three is because of a lack of social distancing compliance and the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S.
Cuomo said a decision will be made about indoor dining on Wednesday. Other regions in the state resumed indoor service earlier this month. Across the five boroughs, restaurants and bars have been allowed to open for outdoor service as part of phase two since last Monday.
“We know that indoor dining has been problematic,” Cuomo said on Monday. “Outdoor dining has worked very well all across the state, New York City included. The state’s going to be reviewing the data and consulting with stakeholders in New York City.”
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