Indoor dining, movie theaters in NJ to resume Friday with limited capacity

Coronavirus
Indoor dining

The inside of a restaurant is pictured (PIX11)

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NEW JERSEY — Indoor dining, movie theaters and other performance venues in New Jersey will be allowed to resume with limited capacity beginning Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

Restaurants can offer indoor dining services with a 25% capacity limit, according to Murphy. Tables must be spaced 6 feet apart and groups per table cannot exceed eight people unless they are members of the same household.

Masks are also mandatory for all staff and customers are expected to wear a face covering any time they get up from their table.

“Our goal is to ensure this step is done properly to prevent the kind of spikes we saw in other states,” Murphy said Monday during a coronavirus briefing.

Movie theaters and performance venues will also have to abide by strict new reopening guidelines, including a limit of either 25% of room capacity or 150 people, whichever is less. For example, if you have four screens in a multiplex, each screen would be held to the lesser of 25% capacity or 150 people, Murphy said.

Theaters and venues will be allowed to offer concessions as well.

Breweries, distilleries, wineries and other similar establishments are also included in the resumption of indoor dining services, the governor said, as long as they sell food.

Restaurants were forced to suspend indoor dining services and non-essential businesses such as movie theaters had to close in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Indoor dining was initially expected to return with limited capacity in July, but Murphy and state officials decided to “pause” the reopening, citing a rise in cases in other states with relaxed indoor dining restrictions.

Murphy has repeatedly noted that science indicates coronavirus spreads more easily indoors than outside.

The return of indoor dining by Friday means additional customer capacity for struggling restaurant owners heading into Labor Day weekend and ahead of cooler weather this fall.

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