UPDATE: Indoor dining was set to restart on July 2 with limited capacity but Governor Murphy announced today that the reopening of indoor dining is on hold until further notice.
Murphy mentioned the spikes in cases in other states, an increase in positive tests in NJ and the fact that indoor dining is a sedentary activity where people aren’t able to wear proper face coverings for extended periods of time.
“Given the current situation in numerous other states we do not believe it is prudent at this time to push forward with what is, in effect, a sedentary indoor activity,” said Murphy. “Especially when we know that this virus moves differently indoors than out, making it even more deadly,”
Murphy also cited “knucklehead behavior” of people not complying with rules and overcrowding outdoor spots and not wearing face coverings as another factor in his decision. He doesn’t have a date for when indoor dining can resume. He added that indoor bars are a particular problem and the spacing for them will be a factor before indoor dining and bars will be able to reopen.
As of today, there are 171,272 total cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey, with 156 new cases reported over the weekend, and a 1.92 percent positivity rate. To date, there are 13,138 total deaths in NJ due to COVID-19.
On June 15, restaurants began serving outdoor diners with tables spaced at least six feet apart. New Jersey’s casinos can also reopen on July 2 but must also operate at 25 percent capacity. Health and safety rules for casinos will also be released in the next few days, Murphy said.
Last week marked another milestone day in NJ’s second week of the road to reopen the Garden State since the pandemic began. Last week, hair and beauty salons and barbershops were allowed to open and serve customers with capacity limits and safety restrictions in place. Youth sports and municipal and private swim clubs were also given the okay to reopen and camping is now allowed at most state parks.
Also last week, outdoor gatherings were okayed to increase to 250 people as long as 6 feet of social distance is kept between those who are not in the same household. Protests and religious gatherings are exempt. That number is expected to increase to 500 by July 6, when high schools will be allowed to hold outdoor graduations.