NEW JERSEY – Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday that indoor dining can finally resume, starting on Friday.
Murphy announced that restaurants across the state will be able to open for indoor dining beginning this Friday, Sept. 4, at 25 percent capacity and with social distancing between tables.
“Reopening responsibly will help us restore one of our state’s key industries while continuing to make progress against #COVID19,” Murphy announced on Twitter.
Murphy did not address reopening movie theaters, but he has said he’d like to open them before Sept. 14th. Read more: Gov. Murphy Hopes To Open NJ Indoor Dining, Movie Theaters Soon
The announcement comes a day before New Jersey will reopen gyms and indoor amusements across the state. Read more: Gov. Murphy: NJ Gyms, Indoor Amusements Can Reopen Amid Coronavirus Crisis
Murphy has said the plans remain “fluid” and that he’s impressed with what New Jersey has done so far to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the schools. Read more: NJ Coronavirus, School Reopen Updates: Here’s What You Need To Know
Murphy has been facing mounting criticism, however, for taking a cautious approach with restaurants. He initially planned to reopen them in early July, but withdrew the plan when coronavirus cases began to spike across the United States.
He did allow them to open their interiors on a limited basis as long as they had walls that could open to the outside. He also allowed outdoor dining beginning in mid-June.
Two weeks ago, Murphy nixed demands that New Jersey reopen businesses in the same way he’s reopening schools, saying that education is not practiced in a “one-size-fits all” statewide fashion and “not every family is configured or looks the same and has the same degree of freedom as others.”
Murphy appeared to be responding to a joint letter from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, which said: “It appears that deferring to industry experts and local officials for COVID-19 reopening decisions is the proper process, except when it comes to the reopening of our businesses.”
“The New Jersey Business Coalition has repeatedly called for a regional approach to the reopening of New Jersey’s economy. In doing so, the coalition noted the DOH’s current reporting of COVID-19 cases on a county-by-county basis,” the statement read. “It recommended that a grid of ‘safe’ vs. ‘cautious’ counties can easily be developed.”
The New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association also put out a statement saying the organization repeatedly had asked for a meeting with Murphy to discuss reopening indoor dining and was rejected. They eventually did speak.