TRENTON, NJ – Stock your garage with club sized packages of toilet paper and paper towels and start loading up your freezers again with frozen pizza because Governor Phil Murphy is going again. Today, Murphy announced nearly 4,000 new COVID-19 positive cases and 21 new deaths from the virus as a “second wave” takes hold in New Jersey.
“These numbers are devastating,” Murphy said on Facebook shortly before his wife Tammy read a children’s book in the feed to celebrate Veterans Day. “We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay safe.”
This week, Murphy began reversing his COVID-19 reopenings, instituting a 10 p.m. COVID-19 curfew against restaurants, bars and casinos and shutting down bar service in those establishments completely. Additionally, Murphy put a moratorium on interstate indoor youth and high school sports.
On the bright side, restaurants who are at 25% capacity can move their tables a little bit closer to each other provided they have state-approved barriers between them. Outdoors, struggling restaurants who invested thousands of dollars into outdoor settings and tents and can now freely invest in “table bubbles” such as those seen in New York City where diners can eat outside, in individual table bubbles.
Many restaurant and bar owners that draw a late-night crowd will have to stop serving food and drinks indoors at 10 p.m. The new order could have devastating consequences for the Jersey Shore’s bar and restaurant industry who rely on quick in-and-out boardwalk traffic and bar services as people, even in the fall and winter stroll along the boardwalk. In seaside bars from Cape May to Sandy Hook, which has just returned to a near-normal experience for customers, entertainment will now mix with dinner service.
Many of these bars and restaurants are set up to serve families dinner until about 9 p.m., then convert to accommodate the nightlife crowd with live entertainment and bar type services. That establishment will either have to forgo the entertainment or stop selling food and drinks after 9 p.m., where alcohol sales are their largest take each night.
Restaurateurs and small business owners across New Jersey now fear what comes next for a governor who has proved he isn’t afraid to shut the whole damn state down.