Gov. Murphy: ‘Knucklehead behavior’ in NJ forces state to ‘hit pause on the restart of indoor dining’
Gov. Phil Murphy has postponed the start of indoor dining
, causing restaurants hoping to boost their bottom line by allowing customers to also eat inside beginning Thursday to wait a while longer.
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Indoor dining, like many other things, was supposed to resume with restrictions Thursday, just in time for Fourth of July weekend.
The governor says he acted because of a lack of compliance over the use of face masks and social distancing as the coronavirus outbreak continues to rage in many parts of the country.
He talked about recent scenes at outdoor bars and restaurants around the state.
But that's not all. The governor says because there's been a spike in cases outside New Jersey, that has him concerned as well.
"Now, certainly, I recognize, we recognize, that there are many more establishments whose owners, managers, and customers have been responsible, and who have lived up not just to the letter of the guidance we have released, but to the spirit of community in helping to protect patrons and residents,” says Gov. Murphy. “But, other scenes cannot continue, and we cannot move forward unless there is complete compliance. So, unfortunately, the national situation, compounded by instances of knucklehead behavior here at home, are requiring us to hit pause on the restart of indoor dining for the foreseeable future."
The governor did not give a timeline when indoor dining may return.
Congressman Jeff Van Drew isn't too happy with the governor's decision, saying, "This is no longer about safety. This is Gov. Murphy forcing businesses to die; businesses that just spent months investing and preparing to open at a time he gave his word to them on. I am completely disgusted and my heart aches for the pain these business owners are feeling after their dreams are being smothered by Gov. Murphy's cruel change of mind."
Within the dining industry, the change of direction is being called devastating, as owners were relying on the extra business to stay afloat. Many restaurants had already ordered, and paid for, food, drinks, and employees in anticipation of opening inside.
"Sun Tavern brought in more food, liquor contacted purveyors to get deliveries again," says owner Andrew McCrone. "When the pandemic started, we had to lay off 45 employees, and started to bring them back. Now I have to tell some I'm going to lay them off again because of non-indoor dining. "
Some other restaurants were not planning on doing indoor dining this week anyway, saying it wasn't financially worth the risk.
AP wire services helped contribute to this report.