NJ COVID-19 restrictions: Bars, restaurants to halt indoor dining from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.


People wait for their breakfast inside of a local diner on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, in Hoboken, N.J. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

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NEW JERSEY — Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration ordered bars, restaurants and clubs to halt indoor dining from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting this Thursday because of an uptick in the coronavirus.

Outdoor, takeout and deliveries will continue past 10 p.m., Murphy added. All barside seating will also be prohibited at all hours.

Restaurants will also be allowed to place tables closer than six feet if they are separated by barriers.

Banquet halls also have to close by 10 p.m., including weddings.

“The last thing I want to do or anyone of us want to do is shut down the economy,” Murphy said during his coronavirus briefing Monday.

“We have to shake off the pandemic fatigue.”

Murphy said they aren’t seeing as much evidence that infections are coming from people sitting at tables. Instead, the Department of Health is seeing more outbreaks between customers and bartending staff, the governor said.

It’s obvious people are “letting their hair down” and getting sloppy as the night wears on, which is why they chose to ban indoor dining after 10 p.m., according to the governor.

All interstate games and tournaments for indoor youth sports are also prohibited beginning Thursday, the governor said.

The governor said transmissions are happening in a number of arenas, but two that have stood out among the pack have been related to bartenders and indoor sports, particularly indoor hockey.

“We know for sure we were taking on more risk than we should, particularly with interstate competitions,” Murphy said, adding that the Health Department has been closely tracking outbreaks related to indoor sports.

The restrictions come as the coronavirus rate of infection and number of cases has climbed in New Jersey and across the country.

Murphy reported 2,075 new positive COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the state’s cumulative total to 256,653. Since last Thursday, the state has recorded 9,524 additional cases.

Over the past seven days, an average of more than 2,000 people per day have been infected by the virus, up from a rate of about 370 per day in August.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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