TRENTON, NJ — Following a vote by Asbury Park city council to allow restaurants to serve patrons indoors this week, the state has filed suit against the municipality to stop the violation of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order in its tracks. 

While New Jersey’s transmission rates continue to show positive steps toward recovery, with fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for 14 consecutive days, Murphy warned that attempts to usurp the multi-phase reopening plan could spell disaster. 

“There is just no question that this virus is multiples more lethal inside than outside, the evidence is overwhelming,” he said at Friday’s press briefing. “When you add to that lack of ventilation, sedentary close proximity — there’s a method to what we’re doing here folks.”

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Murphy said Thursday that though he understands the economic pressures small businesses are facing, particularly in beach towns that rely on the summer months for most of their yearly revenue, his primary concern is preventing a second wave and start the cycle over again. 

The state’s suit comes after attempting to work amicably with Asbury Park, according to Murphy. The council is allowing its eateries to operate at 25% indoor capacity as of Wednesday. 

Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan begins on Monday, which will see nonessential retail operating at 50% capacity and allow outdoor dining at restaurants. Starting June 22, residents will also be able to visit the personal-care business, such as spas, hair and tanning salons, gyms, tattoo parlors and community pools. 

Murphy declined to comment further on the legal proceedings against Asbury Park or whether he would send State Police to shut down businesses, commenting only that safety is paramount to moving forward.

“We have one set of rules, and they are based on one principle: ensuring public health," he said.

The Department of Health recorded 48 new deaths and 495 new cases as of Friday.