Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey said that he is planning to sign an executive order allowing restaurants, movie theaters and performance spaces to open in time for the coming Labor Day weekend. The order will go into effective on Friday, September 4, at 6am.
Restaurants have had outdoor dining since the strict lockdown was eased, but indoor eating was still forbidden. Eating indoors will be restricted to only 25% of the restaurant’s capacity, but considering the indoor option was illegal for over five months, that will be a big breakthrough for restaurant owners and diners as well.
The move comes months after New York and its suburbs were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. New Jersey is one of a few remaining states that have hesitated to begin the process of getting back to pre-pandemic entertainment. June plans to re-open indoor dining were abandoned, and no official would say when such an easing in restrictions would go into effect.
It is believed that about 16,000 New Jersey residents died from COVID-19. Over 191,000 have tested positive for the virus since the first case was recorded on March 4, 2020.
“This pandemic isn’t over yet and our goal is to ensure this step is done properly to prevent the kind of spikes we saw in other states that allowed their restaurants to reopen too fully, and too quickly,” Murphy said during a press briefing. He added, “There is no room for error.”