NYC Eateries Stay Shut as N.J. Indoor Dining Set to Resume
(Bloomberg) -- New York City’s indoor dining will remain shut as neighboring New Jersey’s is set to reopen starting Friday, along with the state’s movie theaters.
In its final step toward reopening, New Jersey set restaurant capacity limits at 25%, 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,” Governor Phil Murphy said Monday in a tweet.
At a news conference, Murphy said the reopening “will come with strong limits on capacities as well as other requirements, which will be strictly enforced.”
Windows must be open and air conditioners must be set to pull fresh air from outdoors. Staff must be wear masks at all times, as must diners when they aren’t seated, Murphy said. Food and beverages may be consumed only when patrons are seated.
“Walking around with a drink indoors will not be tolerated,” he said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is aware of the “competitive disadvantage” for New York City restaurants, and is watching to see what happens with the flu season approaching and schools set to reopen for in-person learning after Labor Day.
“We know in New York City there have been compliance issues,” Cuomo said. “We know it’s an ongoing problem.” Local governments need to focus on enforcement, he said.
Indoor dining has been shut in New Jersey and New York City since March. In the Garden State, gyms can open starting Sept. 1 and movie theaters on Friday, both with restrictions, Murphy said.
He also raised indoor gathering limits from 25 to 150 people or 25% capacity, whichever is less, at churches, weddings, memorial services, political rallies and other group activities.
Prior to the pandemic, which has killed almost 16,000 New Jerseyans, the state had about 25,000 restaurants and bars.
“Summer is over and for the 35% of the restaurants that are closed, it is too late for them,” Marilou Halvorsen, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association, said by telephone. “We’re not going to get those back.”
Halvorsen said owners were grateful to have an opening date, but cautioned that smaller establishments won’t find it profitable to seat so few people, so more places are likely to close permanently.
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