NEW JERSEY — Restaurateurs stocked up for the restart of indoor dining in advance of the July Fourth weekend. That was before Gov. Phil Murphy announced the cancelation of inside dining days before its anticipated comeback originally slated for July 2. Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, R-Westfield, is proposing a bill that would reimburse restaurants for monies they disbursed in anticipation of operating indoor dining at 25 percent capacity over the July 4 weekend.
“The legislation would say if a restaurant can show if they spent money based on the government plan to open on July 2, that the government should reimburse for the out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the reliance on that date,” Bramnick said.
In announcing the “indefinite” cancelation of indoor dining, Murphy cited spikes in COVID-19 cases in other states driven partly by the return to indoor dining.
“We do not believe it is prudent at this time to push forward with what is, in effect, a sedentary indoor activity, especially when we know that this virus moves differently indoors than out, making it even more deadly,” Murphy said at his June 29 coronavirus briefing.
The governor also said he took the measure because certain establishments in New Jersey were not practicing social distancing.
“We are also moved to take this step because of what we have seen in some establishments across the state of late,” Murphy said. “We have all seen the scenes--overcrowding, a complete disregard for social distancing, very few, if any, face coverings.”
While Bramnick does not dispute the science, he is concerned about the governor’s assertion that certain establishments are to blame.
“This is a very serious health crises,” he said. “My concern is about how the governor framed it. He framed it as some of these outliers created the situation. If that was the thought process, that is unfair.”
An anticipated companion bill to Bramnick's has gained the support of state Senate President Steve Sweeney.
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