The resumption of indoor dining has been put on hold by Gov. Phil Murphy, he announced June 29 at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Trenton. It will no longer resume on July 2, as planned last week.
Murphy cited increasing numbers of cases in other states where indoor dining was allowed to begin. “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, especially when we know this virus moves differently indoors than out, making it even more deadly,” the governor said. No new date has been set for restaurants to welcome customers back inside.
“We have seen spikes in other states driven in part to the return in of patrons to indoor dining establishments where they are seated and without face coverings for a significant of time. We do not wish to see New Jersey experience a similar spike,” Murphy said.
In mid-June, a group of more than a dozen friends contracting COVID-19 at a bar in Jacksonville, Fla. was widely reported. Health officials in East Lansing, Mich. reported June 27 that 85 new COVID-19 cases were tied to a busy bar. Texas, which has also reported spikes related to bar-goers, along with Florida have since closed their bars. Texas also reduced its restaurant dining room capacity limits from 75 percent to 50 percent.
Murphy’s announcement came on the same day that shopping malls open at a limited capacity, and three days before outdoor recreation centers are slated to open.
Also announced Monday, the Department of Health will now allow doulas to be present throughout a new mother’s hospital stay.
“The carelessness of one establishment can completely undo the good work of many others,” Murphy said of what he called “knucklehead behavior” at establishments throughout New Jersey. “We will not tolerate outlier bars and restaurants – and, frankly, patrons – who think the rules don’t apply to them. They are the ones who ruin it for everyone else.”
Murphy said the opening of indoor dining was likely a matter of weeks, not days. And while he said his administration has “enormous sympathy” for those whose businesses are affected by the pause on allowing indoor dining to commence, “the alternative here is worse and unacceptable.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:17 p.m. EST on June 29, 2020, with more details regarding Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement on indoor dining, and information about doulas.