‘It’s a dictatorship’ – Indoor dining delay spurs angry reaction in New Jersey

Many restaurant owners and staffs are not happy with Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to delay the resumption of indoor dining in the state.

News 12 Staff

Jul 1, 2020, 12:27 AM

Updated 1,387 days ago

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Many restaurant owners and staffs are not happy with Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to delay the resumption of indoor dining in the state.
“We are being told what to do. It’s a dictatorship, 100%,” says chef Lou Smith.
Smith says that restaurants can no longer survive on takeout and outdoor dining alone – even with accommodations made by towns like Manasquan and Asbury Park to increase sidewalk seating.
“We are being punished, halted I guess, due to other areas. We held our own here in the state. We abided by the rules. Doing everything possible to make a clean operation always and it's disheartening I'm in shock,” Smith says.
Restaurants have not been allowed to have patrons inside since the COVID-19 restrictions that began in mid-March. The governor previously announced that indoor dining could resume with some restrictions on July 2. But Murphy delayed indoor dining on Monday due to rising cases of the virus in other states and because several bars and restaurants were spotted over the weekend with large crowds of guests not social distancing or wearing masks.
Ann Gauthier owns the Toms River restaurant Shut Up and Eat. She says that she spent thousands of dollars stocking up on food and supplies for the July 2 reopening, only to be told that it was delayed.
“We have been taking a step back every day because of this. Every day the rules change. Every day there is more illness, there’s more death, more stories, more lies, more crap,” she says.
Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn says that a more reasonable approach would have been for the governor to pull liquor licenses form bars and restaurants that break the rules, instead of punishing the entire industry.
But Murphy told News 12 New Jersey that this was not a punishment, but rather a move to protect the public from the virus.


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