In less than a week, New Jersey restaurants will welcome visitors inside for the first time since mid-March, but with big changes.
Gov. Phil Murphy outlined the new clarifications in an executive order Saturday that expands the requirement for eating indoors, which has been greatly anticipated as the state enters its second phase of reopening.
“As we enter the later stages of the second stage of our restart, we ask the new Jerseyans to continue to respond to the personal responsibility call that has brought us this far,” said Murphy. “We have been actively working towards this point for weeks and we are confident that the health metrics we needed to see are in place.”
Meal requirements clarified in the executive order include:
- Limit internal capacity to 25% of maximum capacity, excluding any staff member.
- Guests can only place orders when they are seated at the table, and only staff can bring food and drinks to the table.
- Require all clients to put on facial covers unless they are eating. This does not apply to anyone who has a medical exemption for wearing a face mask or if a child is under 2 years old.
- Tables and people must remain six feet apart in all directions.
- Guests cannot walk while drinking or eating and must remain seated.
- Comply with all health and safety regulations issued by the Department of Health, including infection control and disinfection.
Diners have been banned from eating indoors as restaurants were forced to close on March 16, as Garden State became an entry point for the coronavirus, so restaurants and bars were limited to bringing or deliver.
Outdoor meals resumed in the state on June 15 and require employees to wear masks. Guests must wear masks when entering the property.
As part of the state’s Stage 2 reopening plan, playgrounds and any personal care services that require removal of a facial covering, such as facials, may also resume on July 2.
Officials will soon issue protocols for swimming pools, amusement parks, and water parks. And the orientation for casinos, which will reopen on July 2, will be released in the coming days.
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The details surrounding the latest reopening come as Murphy loosens the restrictions in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus for nearly three months.
New Jersey entered the second week of Stage 2’s reopening on Monday when hair and beauty salons began serving customers again. Outdoor gatherings of 100 to 250 people can be held, as long as people not residing in the same home are kept at least 6 feet apart. Protests and religious gatherings are exempt.
It announced Wednesday that arcades, batting cages and bowling alleys, among other indoor activities, could reopen to 25% of capacity as of July 2. And organized outdoor sports were allowed to resume practice, but intense indoor physical activity remains prohibited.
Outdoor activities were the first to resume, with the governor opening parks and beaches and then dining al fresco. Experts say that outdoor activity carries a much lower risk of transmitting the virus than indoor gatherings, but they still urge people to wear masks when outside and near people outside their homes.
Murphy said Stage 3 could come in weeks, not months, if the state’s outbreak continues to decrease.
NJ Advance Media team writer Matt Arco contributed to this report.
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Sophie Nieto-Muñoz can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on @snietomunoz.
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