State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Palmyra) added his voice to Republican calls to raise indoor dining capacity limits Wednesday.
“Outdoor dining and 25% indoor capacity were an understandable first step in allowing our restaurants to reopen after the long shutdown,” he said. “However, after several months of serving customers both inside and outside, these professionals have demonstrated they are more than capable of serving the public, while simultaneously maintaining the health and safety of both staff and patrons.”
Republican senators like Tony Bucco (R-Boonton) and Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) have long called for Murphy to raise restaurant capacity limits, warning that few could sustain themselves while operating with only 25% of indoor tables open.
Those concerns redoubled as temperatures began to fall as autumn wore on. Outdoor dining, an emergency measure enacted to aid struggling restaurants, is likely to see waning use in colder weather.
“How will they be able to operate during the chillier fall and winter months?” Singleton said, “Will they be able to continue to keep their staff employed? More simply, will they be able to survive?”
The Republican calls less strict capacity limits have so far produced little movement from the administration.
Murphy on Tuesday said there was no date set for when the state would raise those limits, though he said again that such an increase would come “sooner than later.” The governor and the state’s health officials have said indoor dining and other indoor activities have not resulted in spikes of the virus.
“Governor Murphy has been careful and prudent in his decision making; he has also been compromising. When my team and I pointed out flaws in a previous outdoor dining policy, he thoughtfully revised it, which allowed many of our local eateries to remain open,” Singleton said. “It is once again time for reconsideration.”