CRANFORD - If you've got the late night munchies, you'll now have to order in.
Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed Executive Order No. 194, which restricts seating and hours for restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounges. The EO, which goes into effect on Thursday, Nov. 12, also prohibits interstate indoor youth sports.
"We are devastated by the news, but remain committed to following public health protocols to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Our industry and many others have taken a hard hit during this pandemic, but we will come out on top, #CranfordStrong and #JerseyStrong. Your support is needed #NowMoreThanEver," Thirsty Turtle Tap & Grill wrote on Facebook.
Barry O'Donovan, owner of Kilkenny House in Cranford, has had to emphasize his food, rather than drinks.
"We are a restaurant with a bar, not a bar with a restaurant, and we were closing at 10:00 p.m. anyway. The fact that people can't sit at the bar, means we will put more tables there."
"I understand that they are worried about people gathering at Thanksgiving. The night before is usually the best night of the year," he said. "If the weather stays warm, we are good. December through February will be tough. My best months are March through May. I lost them this year."
In general, pizzerias and other eateries that emphasize takeout and delivery orders have faired better than fine dining establishments. While new restaurants such as Ani Ramen and Sapore Di Italia have opened in town, Cranford has also seen restaurants such as A Toute Heure and Pairings Palate + Plate close permanently close.
“As cases of COVID-19 increase across the country and in our state, we must take all measures necessary to stop the spread,” Murphy said. “In the interest of public health, we are requiring modifications in operations for businesses that serve food and drinks, and temporarily prohibiting interstate games and tournaments for indoor K-12 sports. We must come together as a state to once again beat back this deadly virus and to save lives.”
Restrictions on Hours for Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Lounges, and Casinos
- Restaurants, bars, clubs, and other businesses that serve food or drinks will not be able to operate their indoor premises between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Outdoor dining can continue after 10:00 p.m., as can takeout and delivery services.
- Casinos will not be able to serve food or drinks between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., except for room service delivered to guest rooms and takeout. Gaming will be unaffected.
Restrictions on Bar Seating, Increased Flexibility for Restaurants
- Seating at the physical bar in the indoor areas of bars and restaurants will be prohibited during all operating hours.
- Due to the impact this may have on restaurants with small seating areas, restaurants will be allowed to have groups at tables indoors that are closer than six feet together, if they are separated by barriers that comply with guidance from the Department of Health.
- Restaurants will be allowed to set up plastic domes outdoors, limited to one group each, as additional outdoor dining space.