TRENTON, NJ — Although he planned to loosen restrictions on indoor dining in New Jersey beginning on Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at his COVID-19 press conference Monday afternoon that he will delay the reopening indefinitely, providing no timetable as to when indoor dining would resume.
Murphy pointed to packed crowds at outdoor bars and restaurants with patrons not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing guidelines as reasons for postponing the return of indoor dining indefinitely.
"We have been cautious throughout every step of our restart," he said. "We’ve always said that we would not hesitate to hit pause if needed to safeguard public health. This is one of those times. After COVID-19 spikes in other states driven by, in part, the return of indoor dining, we have decided to postpone indoor dining indefinitely."
The governor also announced 18 new COVID-19-related deaths and downward trends of key measures on Monday.
"We have enormous sympathy [for small business owners], but the alternative is worse," said Murphy. "Keeping up the fight is even more important now to prevent us from backsliding.
“We have seen spikes in other states driven, in part, by the return of patrons to indoor dining establishments, where they are seated, and without face coverings. We are also moved to take this step because of what we have seen in some establishments across the state.”
Republican Jon Bramnick, a minority leader in the New Jersey State Assembly, was among those who were quick to speak out against the decision.
"I am very disappointed that the governor without any consultation of the elected legislature stopped reopening of indoor dining scheduled for this Thursday," Bramnick said via Twitter. "This should not be decided by one person. No transparency, no discussion and no debate."
More information will be provided as it becomes available.
CLICK HERE for the current list of Livingston restaurants currently open for outdoor dining.
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