New Jersey restaurants won’t be allowed to resume indoor dining on Thursday as originally planned due to a growing number of coronavirus cases in other states, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday.
“Today we must hit pause on the resumption of indoor dining, which was also to resume this coming Thursday. Under our revised plan indoor dining will now be set to resume at a later date to be determined,” Murphy said at a press briefing. “It brings me no joy to do this, but we have no choice.”
Murphy noted that some New Jersey residents and establishments haven’t been adhering to social distancing guidelines or using face coverings as recommended by the state.
“So unfortunately the national situation compounded by instances of knucklehead behavior here at home are requiring us to hit pause on the start of indoor dining for the foreseeable future,” he said.
New Jersey allowed outdoor dining at restaurants and limited indoor retail to resume on June 15. The state reopened its barbershops and hair salons under specific guidelines on June 22. The state is still preparing to reopen its outdoor amusement centers, indoor recreational facilities, museums and libraries on Thursday, Murphy said.
On Monday, New Jersey allowed malls to reopen while following the same health precautions required of other stores.
Earlier on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also noted that the state will evaluate whether to allow New York City restaurants to resume indoor dining, which is currently scheduled for July 6.
Cuomo said he’s concerned about the city’s lack of enforcement of previous reopenings and added that the city has experienced a lack of compliance when it comes to social distancing and mask wearing. Outdoor dining was allowed to resume in the city on June 22, along with in-store shopping at retail stores with modifications.
Health experts agree that indoor spaces are higher risk than outdoor spaces when it comes to the virus’ spread, which is another reason New Jersey has paused indoor dining, Murphy said. Health experts specifically warn that dining indoors, where there’s less air flow, can be a higher risk since people can’t wear face coverings when they eat.
“We know that this virus moves differently indoors than out, making it even more deadly. We have seen spikes in other states driven in part by the return of patrons to indoor dining establishments where they are seated and without face coverings for significant periods of time,” Murphy said.
As of Sunday, new Covid-19 cases jumped by at least 5% over the previous week in 37 states, based on a seven-day moving average, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. New Jersey’s seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases decreased by nearly 10% compared with a week ago.
Other states have had to roll back some of their reopenings due to a recent spike in cases. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Sunday that bars would have to close in a handful of counties throughout the state. Both Texas and Florida also closed bars statewide late last week.