New Jersey Wins Injunction to Block Asbury Park’s Indoor Dining Plan

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey won a court order blocking Asbury Park from allowing indoor dining, after the seaside city said restaurants could seat patrons starting June 15.

“Our rules are based on one principle -- ensuring public health,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a tweet earlier in the day when he announced the state was suing the community. The Asbury Park City Council on Wednesday voted to allow indoor dining, with density restrictions, while a ban remains in effect statewide.

“We were getting varying and somewhat vague executive orders from the governor,” Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn, whose city has nonpartisan elections, said Thursday. “The council here is inundated with business owners on the brink of collapse.”

Asbury Park voted for Murphy 5-to-1 over Republican Kim Guadagno in the 2017 race for governor. But Quinn said that seeing the governor at two Black Lives Matter rallies Sunday “was one of the factors” in the council’s reopening decision.

New Jersey elected officials and small-business owners have been challenging Murphy’s latest shutdown guidelines after he participated in the anti-police-brutality marches, which he called a “profound moment.” But his critics said it showed he was holding residents to a different standard for social distancing as the state tries to avoid a resurgence of virus cases.

Murphy announced the lawsuit as he outlined the latest measures to reopen the economy in the state, which saw its death toll from Covid-19 rise by 48 to 12,489 and its new cases increase by 495 to 166,164.

Curbside pickup for libraries will be permitted June 15, and personal services such as barber shops and nail salons a week later, and in-person summer school on July 6, Murphy said.

He noted that other states that have been more aggressive in reopening have seen recent jumps in cases.

The state’s transmission rate “has dropped to among the lowest in the country,” Murphy tweeted. “Right now, the national news is reporting about other states witnessing spikes in COVID-19 cases and impacts – states which rushed to reopen. The foolhardiness of their actions is now being seen.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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