NJ eliminating capacity limits Wednesday, but some business owners say it’s not enough
New Jersey will be easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday.
Indoor gatherings have now been increased to 50 people. Large indoor venues like the Prudential Center can now have 30% capacity limits, and businesses like restaurants, houses of worship, gyms and salons can now operate at 100% capacity.
These businesses will still have to adhere to 6-feet social distancing guidelines. This caveat has some business owners saying that their profits will still be impacted.
“It’s not going to change that much at all,” says restaurant owner Jim Finnegan.
Finnegan owns three businesses and says that the social distancing rules will hurt him.
“For the hospitality business…if we could eliminate the 6-foot [social distancing], it would be a lot easier to be able to make money. How about 3? Let’s meet halfway,” he says.
One business that may thrive is The Lot, the tri-state area’s largest open-air pavilion, located in West Orange.
“There is nothing like this in the tri-state areas whatsoever,” says Total Entertainment creative director Morgan Reed.
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The pavilion is able to fit 700 people at 100% capacity while also social distancing. It is officially opening just as the capacity restrictions are eased.
“People still have PTSD over what’s happened in the last year. It gives people the comfort, it gives people the ability to celebrate that that’s really the biggest part because our industry was hurt so bad,” Reed says.
Individual event planners were impacted when thousands of events in 2020 had to be canceled. The outdoor space is seen as an alternative to venues that are being events again.
"The halls are all booked. So for us, we think there's going to be a floodgate as soon as they come to see this thing and the word gets around,” says Tri-State Outdoor Events president & CEO Jeffrey Siber.
Business owners also say that staffing is becoming an issue. As demand slowly goes up, profits are still not high enough to be able to hire additional staff.