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New Jersey Will Start Indoor Dining on Friday, While NYC Restaurants Still Have No Plan

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NJ restaurants can reopen at 25 percent capacity heading into Labor Day weekend

Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy places the first bet at the William Hill Sports Book at Monmouth Park as it opens and welcomes public to place first legal sports bets on June 14, 2018 in Oceanport, New Jersey.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for William Hill Race & Sports Bar

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has announced that the state’s restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining starting on Friday. Similar to NYC, the state was originally supposed to resume indoor dining at the beginning of July, but plans were postponed due to concerns about indoor dining and the spread of COVID-19.

To start, restaurants will be limited to 25 percent indoor capacity and tables have to be spaced at least six feet apart, according to NJ.com. Customers will also be required to wear a mask unless they are eating or have underlying health issues, and they will have to provide a phone number if making a reservation in order to help with contact tracing if necessary.

Taking a similar approach as NYC restaurateurs, New Jersey restaurants have been campaigning hard to push the governor to announce a plan for the return of indoor dining. On Monday, Gov. Murphy said on Twitter that “reopening responsibly will help us restore one of our state’s key industries” while continuing to fight COVID-19.

Nearby, NYC restaurants are still without a plan for indoor dining. The news now makes NYC the only part of the tri-state area still banned from indoor dining, as Connecticut and the rest of New York state were allowed to start indoor dining earlier this summer. Philadelphia is set to start indoor dining on September 8.

In a press conference on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he is “aware of the competitive disadvantage” that NYC restaurants are at while indoor dining remains off the table in the city. But he’s first watching to see how events like Labor Day and the reopening of schools play out before making a decision, and he’s also monitoring the upcoming flu season. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio shared similar sentiments last week about waiting to see how things go with the schools reopening before considering a return to indoor dining.

“I want as much economic activity as quickly as possible,” Cuomo said at the press conference. “We also want to make sure the transmission rate stays under control. That is the tension. We’re trying to find the balance, and we’re calibrating every day.”

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