Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth) today welcomed the news that Governor Phil Murphy is allowing New Jersey restaurants to reopen indoor dining starting this weekend, but criticized the Governor’s delay and his 25% capacity limitation.
“As the Governor and his brain trust fiddled, the restaurant industry has burned. Finally, the Governor has succumbed to the inescapable reality that every other state has already recognized – indoor dining can be done safely and will provide precious jobs, and a substantial, vital economic boost,” said O’Scanlon. “New Jersey is months behind surrounding states in reopening which has needlessly devastated this critical industry, destroyed thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of jobs, yet analysis of numerous health metrics, including the rate of transmission, cases and deaths shows there was zero discernible health benefit. This delay was tragic.”
“There is no reason to put a 25 percent limit here when social distancing and table spacing will be a natural cap,” said DiMaso. “Giving people four days’ notice to open inside is also troublesome, especially for those who do not have the ability for outdoor dining. For some, 25 percent might not be enough for them to even bother. Of course, beggars can’t be choosers and many are just happy to be able to open again at all. We can trust restaurateurs and patrons to make sure the rules are being followed without seemingly arbitrary caps and dates. We’ve been living in this world for nearly 6 months now, the majority of residents are reasonable and obey safety guidelines.”
“The needless torture of this industry continues. The time for 25 percent was two months ago, when it could be justified as a test as we reopened. But other states have shown that it’s safe, with proper precautions, to open at 50 percent or higher. The science isn’t different in New Jersey. The delay in opening was devastating. To make up for that wasted time we must get to higher capacity limits as soon as possible,” O’Scanlon concluded.
“The 25 percent capacity isn’t enough for the overwhelming majority of restaurants to turn a profit. Every day that goes by in which we fail to accept these facts kills more of these businesses and destroys more lives.”