‘They're just going to go back to their houses’: Gov. Murphy halts indoor dining from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., no bar seating
Gov. Phil Murphy says bars and restaurants must halt indoor dining from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., starting Thursday, because of an uptick in the coronavirus.
Gov. Murphy announced the change Monday at a news conference in Trenton. It comes as the coronavirus rate of infection and number of cases has climbed in New Jersey and across the country.
Bar seating will also no longer be allowed at any hour. The governor says many recent cases are linked to bar-seating and bartenders, and he's trying to bring that number down.
"It is a very difficult environment and place to maintain the distance you would like," says Dr. Edward Lifshitz, with the New Jersey Communicable Disease Service. “Physically, if you're sitting at a bar, I'm sitting here. Bartenders coming back and forth regularly here, people next to me, masks almost never on, people continuously drinking, yes, there's supposed to be space between the groups. That's not always being observed."
But restaurant owners are taking the hit again, just as many are prepping for cold weather and a move to more indoor dining.
"What's going to happen at 10 p.m. when we have to kick everyone out?” says Mo Atzbi, with Hailey's Harp and Pub TC. “They're just going to go back to their houses and that's another place where masks are not enforced."
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The governor is asking everyone to abide by the restrictions for six more months. He says a vaccine could be ready for the public by May or June.
Over the past seven days, an average of more than 2,000 people per day have been infected by the virus, up from a rate of about 370 per day in August.
Murphy says everyone has to get back in the mindset that crushed the curve in the spring.
Meanwhile, there will be no interstate indoor youth sports games or tournaments, for high school sports beginning Thursday. The governor didn't mention any restrictions to schools, gyms, or retail stores.
AP wire services helped contribute to this report.