Pennsylvania is outright banning indoor dining for the next three weeks in a bid to get control of recent COVID-19 surges while New Jersey is keeping it limited to 25% capacity – and the governors of the two states are largely behind how the other is handling restaurant restrictions.
“I think Pennsylvania and New Jersey have worked together very closely in terms of things that we’re doing” to control the pandemic, said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. “While we’re not always exactly the same, the state of New Jersey has done a lot to recognize that bars and restaurants, that’s where people catch this disease.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, when pressed on Friday, said that the state would not move to restrict indoor dining, which is currently capped at 25% capacity.
On Monday Murphy said the three states “share broad principles,” though “that doesn’t mean we’re in lockstep in… every move that we make.”
New Jersey is flanked by a statewide indoor dining ban in Pennsylvania, a ban in New York City, and capacity now restricted to 25% in the remainder of New York state. Three New York counties surround New Jersey’s northern border.
“We are still staying with what we’ve got,” Murphy said on Friday. That also means restaurants must halt indoor dining at 10 p.m.
Murphy maintained that the state needs a far more “surgical” approach, like crackdowns on bars and eateries violating the state’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
The attorney general’s office is seeking liquor license suspensions for 10 such establishments across the state.
But that “surgical approach” and Pennsylvania’s total indoor dining ban, combined with both state’s other COVID-19 restrictions are not “so far out of line,” Wolf said. And he doubted a surge of Pennsylvanians for indoor dining in New Jersey.
“I think people were seriously concerned about getting together, gathering together, wherever, and that’s true in Pennsylvania, it’s true in New Jersey,” Wolf said.
Murphy on Friday entertained the possibility that people might come “over the Hudson or the Delaware, we’ve just got to watch that very closely.”
Both Wolf and the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo contend that enough outbreaks were traced back to restaurants and bars as to warrant those restrictions.
“I can’t speak for that,” Murphy said of New York on Friday. “They may have particular outbreaks at restaurants, establishments, and again, we watch that like a hawk. But as a general matter, we’re comfortable. Everything stays on the table but we’re comfortable with where we are right now.”