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Murphy permits resumption of indoor dining in NJ

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During yesterday’s media briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) gave several updates on the process of further reopening New Jersey as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases rose to 191,960 with 14,165 deaths, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

Murphy signed a new executive order allowing for the resumption of indoor dining on Friday. He said restaurants will only be allowed to open at 25 percent capacity and may not seat parties with more than eight individuals. They must also maintain at least a 6-foot distance between each table.

Additionally, restaurant employees will be required to wear face masks at all times, Murphy said. Patrons can only consume food and beverages while seated and must otherwise wear a face covering when inside the restaurant.

“Of course, this resumption of indoor dining will come with strong limits on capacities, as well as other requirements which will be strictly enforced,” Murphy said. “As we all know, this pandemic isn’t over yet and our goal is to ensure this step is done properly to prevent the kind of spikes we saw in other states that allowed their restaurants to reopen too fully and too quickly — steps which required us to hit the pause button on our earlier plan to allow indoor dining to resume.”

Restaurants will also be required to keep windows open for air flow into dining areas and to turn air conditioner units on for outdoor air to flow into dining areas. He said this will help ensure proper ventilation.

“We will (watch) very closely and we will not tolerate any owners, managers or diners for that matter, who work or try to work around these rules,” Murphy said. “Everyone must pull together.”

He also announced yesterday that movie theaters and other indoor performance venues will be permitted to open on Friday. These venues will only open at 25 percent capacity or 150 individuals and will be required to enforce social distancing and the use of face masks.

The indoor gathering limits have also been increased for religious services, weddings, funerals and memorial services and political activities, Murphy said.

“We’re able to take all these steps today (due to) the hard work millions of you have done to help keep pushing down our positivity rate and our rate of transmission and all the other health metrics we follow to where we are comfortable and confident in taking these steps,” he said. “Because we are doing so does not mean by any stretch that we can let up our vigilance even one bit. We know this is a virus of opportunity, so let’s not give it any unforced opportunities.”

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