NEW JERSEY — When Stage 2 of New Jersey’s COVID-19 restart and recovery plan takes its first steps Monday, it will allow for outdoor dining and in-person retail shopping.

Despite no defined date over indoor dining, the Asbury Park City Council voted Wednesday to allow for it — a decision that Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday was an example of what not to do. 

Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn said the city took actions to reopen due to the economic toll it’s faced during the pandemic.

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“I fully understand and appreciate the economic pressures believe me, especially our small businesses, including the folks in the hospitality industry,” Murphy said at the George Washington Ballroom in Trenton. “We have lived this already folks, we don’t want to go living it again. We’ve gone through hell. Please let’s not go back through it.”

New York City and Philadelphia's battles with COVID-19 have trended similar to the Garden State, the governor said, neither of which have set dates for reopening indoor dining. 

“The actions of the Asbury Park governing body…are inconsistent with my executive order,” Murphy added. “We do not have one set of rules for one town and another set of rules for another town.”

New Jersey State Police Col. Patrick Callahan joined Murphy in affirming that they will step up enforcement if necessary — but so far their interactions have been mostly with the Jersey Shore town’s governing body instead of business owners. 

Today, which marks 100 days since the first case of COVID-19 in NJ, officials added 539 positive cases and 70 deaths to its aggregate totals of 165,816 cases and 12,443 deaths. Thursday also marked the sixth consecutive day with less than 2,000 hospitalizations throughout the state (1,512 total) — 445 patients of which are in critical or intensive care and 319 on ventilators. 

On Wednesday, 169 people were discharged from hospitals. A computer error led to a total of 27 new hospitalizations, however, that figure is missing new hospitalizations in the North and Central parts of the state. The NJ Department of Health said it will update its numbers.

The state also passed one million diagnostic tests, according to State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

Outdoor dining rules include limits on capacity and the necessity of face masks — a general rubric of which Asbury Park city officials followed in their resolution (saying restaurants would be required to stay within a 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less).

Murphy named Texas and Florida as states the present cautionary tales over the risks of a speedy reopening.

“[These are] states that are now seeing increases in hospitalizations, in ICU counts and in more residents going on ventilators,” he said.

Salons and barbershop will be allowed to reopen June 22, with rules the state expects to detail soon. Shortly after Monday, gyms and health clubs will be presented with dates as well.

Stage 3 of the plan would include most "activities allowed with significant safeguarding" — a timeline of which is unclear as officials look to confront a second wave.

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