ROXBURY, NJ - Restaurants in Roxbury and around the state, continuing to suffer due to COVID-19 restrictions, will get further relief June 15 when the state will begin allowing for in-person outdoor dining.

Gov. Phil Murphy, in announcing the executive order Wednesday, said he himself has a reservation for June 15, although he didn’t say where. “I hope folks with some confidence feel they can get outdoor and partake and help out our restaurants,” Murphy said at the daily coronavirus press briefing in Trenton.

The announcement was welcomed by Roxbury Chamber of Commerce President Bruce Bristol. A number of Roxbury eateries are members of the non-profit organization.

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"Our Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce is here to support our local businesses and the citizens of Roxbury," Bristol said. "We are excited to have our local restaurants being able to open and serve our community. It has been, and continues to be, a challenge for everyone. But we look forward to spending some quality time with each other - at a distance, of course.

Bristol wished "bon apetit," but it won’t be business as usual right away at restaurants.

Restaurants and bars will be required to place tables six feet apart and follow safety and sanitization protocols for which the state Department of Health expects to issue guidance. Earlier in the week, Murphy alluded to other restrictions like limited capacity, face masks and gloves for staff, and paper menus.

To further ease the transition for business owners, per municipal approval, establishments will be allowed to “expand their footprint” to sidewalks, streets and parks. Moreover, the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control will make available a one-time permit to expand premises of services that will be in effect until at least mid-November. 

Indoor gatherings remain at a 10-person cap, although as of last week groups of up to 25 were allowed to congregate outdoors.

COVID-19 numbers continue to wane in the state of 9 million, as Phase 2 of a six-point recovery initiative gets underway. “I am proud that we are able to take this step to get our restart and recovery moving to the next stage,” the governor said.

Today, 652 more positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed (162,068) and 112 additional deaths (11,880).

Murphy acknowledged at the end of the press conference that further guidance is owed on swimming pools.

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