N.J. restaurants NOT reopening for indoor dining this week after ‘knucklehead’ crowds at bars ruin it for everyone

Authored by nj.com and submitted by jcepiano
image for N.J. restaurants NOT reopening for indoor dining this week after ‘knucklehead’ crowds at bars ruin it for everyone

New Jersey will not reopen indoor dining this week as planned in the first major reversal of the state’s Phase 2 coronavirus reopening plan, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

Indoor dining was scheduled to resume Thursday along with several other big reopening steps including Atlantic City casinos, amusement parks, boardwalk rides and arcades ahead of the busy July 4th weekend. The canceled reopening also includes wedding venues and banquet halls. But the reopening of casinos remains scheduled for Thursday.

Murphy cited recent scenes from expanded outdoor bar and restaurants showing packed crowds not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing as a reason from pausing indoor dining indefinitely.

Murphy had provided the detailed restrictions for indoor dining at restaurants on Saturday, but changed his mind just two days later. The restrictions had included 25% capacity limits, tables spaced 6 feet apart, face coverings for staff and other rules.

“Given the current situation in numerous other states 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 Monday at his regular COVID-19 briefing.

“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, for significant periods of time,” he said. “We are also moved to take this step because of what we have seen in some establishments across the state of late.”

Murphy added: “Overcrowding. A complete disregard for social distancing. Very few, if any, face coverings.”

New Jersey reopened outdoor dining on June 15 after about three months of only allowing restaurants to provide takeout or delivery.

But opening doors to allow diners to eat inside a restaurant has been scrapped indefinitely.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage

The shift comes after some restaurants and bars have made headlines and videos of packed outdoor bars and restaurants, including last weekend at the Jersey Shore.

Here’s security tamely trying to move crowds apart pic.twitter.com/RhrWhhtPBv — Josh Axelrod (@j0shaxelrod) June 28, 2020

“Now, certainly, I recognize that there are many establishments whose owners, managers, and customers have been responsible, and who have lived up not just to the letter of the guidance we have released, but to the spirit of community in helping to protect patrons and residents,” Murphy said.

“But, others scenes cannot continue, and we cannot move forward unless there is complete compliance,” he said. “So, unfortunately, the national situation, compounded by instances of knucklehead behavior here at home, are requiring us to hit pause on the restart of indoor dining for the foreseeable future.”

Murphy warned people last week the administration would crack down on those violating safety guidelines after the first round of viral videos surfaced from the Jersey Shore and other bar-heavy locations showing large unmasked crowds jammed into newly opened outdoor dining areas.

“I get it. By the way, we all get it. There is pent up emotion to get back outside. We all want to be out,” Murphy said a COVID-19 briefing last week. “But there is no reason to be a knucklehead. Keep your distances. Wear your masks. Be smart and courteous – the world just isn’t about you. It’s about all 9 million of us.”

DJais Bar and Grill in Belmar received a warning after footage from the weekend showed patrons standing or dancing close together without masks. And Tashmoo Bar and Restaurant in Morristown had its outdoor dining license revoked for overcrowding the patio.

Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.

Matt Arco may be reached at [email protected] Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.

SignalToNoiseRatio on June 29th, 2020 at 20:04 UTC »

It seems like drinking alcohol leads people to make dumb decisions — someone should research this.

crowleys_bentley on June 29th, 2020 at 18:50 UTC »

I appreciate that the tone of his comments were basically "this is why we can't have nice things."

I actually wish Illinois would do this as well. Open up outdoor spaces, but leave the indoor for when we truly have things in hand and have compliance with mask wearing.

Litsazor on June 29th, 2020 at 18:50 UTC »

If they showed you how stupid and irrational people are, they did you good.