New Jersey will open indoor dining and outdoor amusement parks ahead of July 4th weekend

Posted On Tue, June 23, 2020 By

Posted On Tue, June 23, 2020 By In New Jersey, Policy

Photo of the Seaside Heights boardwalk by SurFeRGiRL30 via Flickr cc

Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey will allow indoor dining and casinos to begin operating at 25-percent capacity on July 2. Today, he said on Twitter that outdoor amusement parks, including rides on the boardwalk, and outdoor water parks, can open on this date with 50-percent capacity. Playgrounds can reopen with no limitations. The governor’s decision comes after he allowed beaches to open ahead of Memorial Day Weekend and restaurants to open for outdoor dining on June 15, but some are concerned about taking the next step prior to the busy July 4 weekend.

After making the announcement today, Governor Murphy’s Twitter feed has been filled with warnings to New Jersey residents. “There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for our rate of transmission to begin to creep back up because people have become complacent in social distancing, or are crowding around bars and restaurants unmasked,” he tweeted. Another Tweet said, “Keep your distances. Wear your masks. Be smart and courteous – the world isn’t about you. Don’t be the knucklehead who ruins it for everyone else.”

Skepticism related to the holiday weekend revolves mostly around the Jersey Shore. A trip to Monmouth County this past weekend showed us firsthand that things already seem like a normal summer and not one taking place in the midst of a global pandemic. In Belmar, popular bar D’Jais was teeming with people, packed together in an outdoor patio without masks. In Manasquan, several employees at restaurants participating in outdoor dining did not wear masks while interacting with customers. And in general, beaches and concessions were crowded and lacking social distancing. If this is the case, it would make sense that adding boardwalk amusements into the mix will only intensify these issues. When it comes to Atlantic City’s nine casinos, the big concern, of course, is that they are completely indoors.

As relates to the July 2 reopenings, Governor Murphy said he expects to release further guidelines in the next several days. Unlike Governor Cuomo of New York’s plan, Governor Murphy’s phased reopening is not tied to specific benchmarks but rather general downward trends. The June 15 reopening also included limited in-store retail; as of Monday, hair salons, youth sports programs, private swim clubs, and municipal pools were allowed to open with limitations. This is all under New Jersey’s second phase. Indoor dining and casinos will come under phase three, which also includes limited entertainment, bars with limited capacity, and expanded fitness/gyms, though no date has been set for those.

In New York City, outdoor dining is permitted today under the state’s phase two. Indoor dining at 50-percent capacity will begin in phase three, which the city is likely to hit in early July.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on July 22, 2020, and has been updated with new information.

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