In less than a week, New Jersey restaurants will see guests inside for the first time since mid-March — but with major changes.
Gov. Phil Murphy outlined the new clarifications in an executive order Saturday expanding the requirement for indoor dining, which has been much anticipated as the state enters its second phase of reopening.
“As we enter into the latter phases of stage two of our restart, we ask New Jerseyans to continue to answer the call of personal responsibility that has gotten us this far,” Murphy said. “We have been actively working up to this point for weeks and are confident that the health metrics we needed to see are in place.”
The dining requirements clarified in the executive order include:
- Limiting capacity inside to 25% of the maximum capacity, excluding any staff members.
- Guests can only place orders when they’re seated at the table, and only staff can bring food and beverages to the table.
- Require all customers to wear face coverings unless they are eating. This doesn’t apply to anyone who has a medical exemption for wearing a face mask or if a child is younger than 2 years old.
- Tables and people must remain six feet apart in all directions.
- Guests can’t walk around while drinking or eating and must remain seated.
- Abide by all health and safety standards issued by the Health Department, including infection control and sanitizing.
Diners have been barred from eating indoors since restaurants were forced to close on March 16 as the Garden State became a hotspot for coronavirus, so restaurants and bars were limited to takeout or delivery.
Outdoor dining resumed in the state on June 15, and requires employees to wear masks. Guests must wear masks when going inside the establishment.
As part of the state’s Stage 2 reopening plan, playgrounds and any personal care services that require removal of a face covering, like facials, can also resume on July 2.
Officials will soon issue protocols for pools, amusement parks and water parks. And guidance for casinos, which reopen July 2, will be released in the coming days.
The details surrounding the latest reopening come as Murphy loosens restrictions that were put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus for nearly three months.
New Jersey entered the second week of Stage 2 reopening Monday asbarbershops and beauty salons began to again serve customers. Outdoor gatherings from 100 to 250 people can be held as long as people who don’t reside in the same household keep at least 6 feet apart. Protests and religious gatherings are exempt.
He announced Wednesday thatarcades, batting cages and bowling alleys among other indoor activities could reopen at 25% capacity as of July 2. And outdoor organized sports were allowed to resume practices, but intense indoor physical activity remains barred.
Outdoor activities were the first to resume, with the governor opening parks and beaches and then outdoor dining. Experts say outdoor activity carries a far lower risk of transmitting the virus than indoor gatherings, but they still urge people to wear masks when outside and in proximity to people outside of their households.
Murphy said Stage 3 could come within weeks, not months, if the state’s outbreak continues to slow.
NJ Advance Media staff writer Matt Arco contributed to this report.
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