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Assemblyman Brian Bergen. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.)

Bergen urges increased indoor capacity limits, Murphy says not yet

By Nikita Biryukov, October 13 2020 4:05 pm

Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) urged Gov. Phil Murphy to raise capacity limits for indoor dining Tuesday, but Murphy said that’s not likely to happen in the immediate future.

“If we can allow indoor contact sports, we can allow indoor dining. The separation of the two is absolutely ludicrous,” Bergen said. “Kids and coaches represent the same amount of families that most restaurants can serve at one time, with a constant flow of people in each instance. In fact, restaurants have a leg up on their ability to keep things clean.”

Murphy on Monday signed an order allowing indoor sports, like hockey, basketball and boxing, to resume months after he barred such sports in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19.

But while the move signaled some hope for increased indoor capacity limits, Murphy on Tuesday said restaurants and other indoor facilities would still have to wait.

“If you’re in that realm of a restaurant or another indoor organization, you’d view that as a good sign. We wouldn’t be taking that if we didn’t think we could take that,” he said, adding there was “no date yet” for an increase to indoor capacity limits.

The governor’s comments come as the state sees its largest sustained increase in virus cases since May. On Tuesday, health officials reported 993 new COVID-19 cases, driven largely by infections urban counties in the state’s northeast, as well as in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

Health officials have yet to tease out why New Jersey’s caseload is increasing in the way it is, but Murphy suggested the jumps weren’t fueled by indoor activities.

“We’re trying to make sure we have our arms around exactly why we’re seeing the numbers we’re seeing,” he said. “We continue to like what we see coming out of restaurants and indoor gyms.”

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