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New Jersey Announces New Indoor Dining Restrictions After COVID-19 Uptick

Restaurants and bars statewide will now have to close their indoor areas by 10 p.m.

NJ Announces New Restrictions On Bars And Restaurants As Coronavirus Cases Rise
New Jersey restaurants and bars must indoor dining by 10 p.m. starting Thursday
Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Following a spike in COVID-19 cases in New Jersey — and across the country — Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that restaurants and bars in the state would have to close their indoor dining areas by 10 p.m., and that bar seating is now prohibited indefinitely, first reported.

The state will, however, allow outdoor dining, along with takeout and delivery, to continue past 10 p.m., according to Murphy’s office. The new restrictions will go into effect on Thursday, November 12.

At present, New Jersey allows for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, and several restaurants have been using bar seating to get to that percentage. With the absence of bar seats, the state has allowed restaurants to place tables less than six feet apart, but only if they are separated by a barrier. The state’s health department is expected to announce guidelines on what these barriers should look like.

With the new limitations, New Jersey is also getting behind the outdoor dining bubbles that have been popping up in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Murphy announced Monday that restaurants can incorporate the structures into their outdoor dining setups as long as they only seat one family or party at a time, and are sanitized between each use.

While the state has not shared data specifically linking the recent rise of coronavirus cases to indoor dining, health experts cited indoor dining as posing a high risk for the spread of the virus. Similarly in NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio wasn’t able to share specific data linking indoor dining to the recent rise of cases in the city either, but did note that the rise was likely due to people returning to offices and socializing indoors. He called for indoor dining to be reevaluated, but the decision ultimately lies with New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo’s office said Monday that it was continuing to monitor data, but has no plans to make any announcements on new dining restrictions in the state at this time. The recent rise in cases across the U.S. and the world has been linked to the onset of colder weather and more people returning indoors. Both France and Germany have shut down restaurants and bars in response to the rise in cases in those countries.