TRENTON, NJ -- Although he planned to loosen restrictions on indoor dining in New Jersey on Thursday, July 2, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at his daily COVID-19 press conference Monday that he will delay the reopening. He provided no timetable of when indoor dining -- even at reduced capacity -- would resume.
Murphy pointed to packed crowds at outdoor bars and restaurants -- with people not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing -- as reasons for postponing the return of indoor dining indefinitely.
"We have been cautious throughout every step of our restart. 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," said Murphy, who 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," Murphy said. "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,” he said. “We are also moved to take this step because of what we have seen in some establishments across the state.”
Minority Leader in the New Jersey State Assembly Jon Bramnick, a Republican, was quick to speak out.
"I am very disappointed that the Governor without any consultation of the elected legislature stopped reopening of indoor dining scheduled for this Thursday," said Bramnick via Twitter. "This should not be decided by one person. No transparency, no discussion and no debate."