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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Indoor dining’s return delayed, Murphy says

Republicans fume after governor says restaurants can’t allow diners inside on Thursday

By Nikita Biryukov, June 29 2020 4:47 pm

New Jersey made its first move to slow its reopening process after Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the return of indoor dining would be postponed indefinitely on Monday.

“Given the current situation in numerous other states, as I mentioned, 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 this virus moves differently indoors than out, making it even more deadly,” he said.

Indoor dining was set to return, with capacity limits, along with a slate of other reopenings scheduled for this Thursday.

Murphy’s Monday announcement does not halt the other reopenings.

Libraries and indoor recreation businesses allow patrons to wear masks, while dining does not, Murphy said, adding that record-setting growth in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in other states and compliance issues in New Jersey helped push him to reverse course on indoor dining.

The move has enflamed Republicans already griping about the comparatively laggard pace of the state’s reopening.

“I can’t say enough as to how disappointed (and upset) I am with the Governor’s sudden decision to now delay indoor dining at 25 percent,” Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown) said. “This is absolutely unfair to restaurants that are adhering to all the safety rules and regulations that have been set forth, and have been planning for the reopening of indoor dining this Thursday by employing additional staff and ordering more food.”

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick was less concerned about the change in plans than he was about the administration unilaterally taking a left turn.

“I am very disappointed that the Governor without any consultation of the elected legislature stopped reopening of indoor dining scheduled for this Thursday. This should not be decided by one person. No transparency, no discussion and no debate.”

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