On behalf of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, I am asking Gov. Phil Murphy to either permit restaurants to host indoor dining or, at least, put together a staged plan with dates on when this next phase will begin.

Our restaurant industry has suffered for nearly 15 weeks with no solid plan on when they can resume welcoming patrons inside. While outdoor dining has helped, it is does not bring in nearly enough revenue for our restaurants to survive much longer. Not to mention, no one is going to want to dine outdoors come colder weather. This current operation is not self-sustaining.

The majority of Monmouth County residents have been socially distancing and making responsible decisions during this pandemic and the proof is in the numbers. Even with widespread testing now available, the number of positive COVID cases has significantly flattened.

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In Monmouth County, we average about 40 or less new positive cases reported daily. To put this into perspective, our estimated population here is 630,000. This means that we see about .006 percent of our population tests positive daily.

We quarantined, so we didn’t overwhelm the hospital system. We flattened the curve. We’ve acted responsibly and our numbers prove as much.

It’s time the state joins Monmouth County in having faith in our restaurant industry and allows them to reopen with the proper policies in place.

We’ve witnessed several other industries that require close contact reopen without incident, it’s time to give the same chance to our restaurants.