Phil Murphy Says Shutting Down Bars, Restaurant Curfew in NJ, a “Surgical Step”, Not Lockdown

TRENTON, NJ – On Monday, Governor Phil Murphy announced that he will be shutting down bar service in New Jersey’s bars and restaurants and implementing a 10 p.m. curfew on indoor restaurant dining.   He said that his decision is not the start of a new wave of impending lockdown rules, but a “surgical step” in his fight against COVID-19.

“To be clear, the last thing I want to do, or any of us want to do is to shut our economy back down, and thankfully, we are not at that point. Looking at the data, we are taking surgical steps that we hope will help mitigate the current increasing rate of spread. No one up here wants to take the type of broad and all-encompassing actions like those we had to take in March; we are acting with more precision-based actions based on what we’re seeing on the ground. However, with these actions, we need to change our mindsets. We have to shake off the pandemic fatigue that I know we all feel. I feel it, by the way, as well. And we have to get back into the mindset that saw us crushed the curve in the spring,” Murphy said.  “So with that, effective this Thursday, November 12th, all restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges that serve food and drink must close their indoor premises for business by 10:00 p.m. each day and cannot open again until 5:00 a.m. the following day. Outdoor dining may continue past 10:00 p.m. as can takeout or delivery services. This time restriction for indoor dining also includes our casinos. However, their gaming operations may continue around the clock. But after 10:00 p.m., no food or drink will be available to anyone inside the casino.”

Murphy said there is now evidence that patrons sitting at bars and bartenders are spreading COVID-19, but gave no actual figures or examples.

“Additionally, as we have found evidence suggesting an increase of spread to patrons seated at bars and among bartenders, effective Thursday, all bar-side seating will be prohibited at all hours for the immediate future,” He said.  “Now because we know some restaurants have relied upon bar seating to allow themselves to reach the 25% capacity limit, we will allow restaurants to now meet that limit by placing tables closer than six feet, but only if they are separated by barriers. The Department of Health, under Judy’s leadership, will issue amended indoor guidance that addresses the requirements for those dividers. And, we are also going to allow individual, fully enclosed dining bubbles to be set up for outside use. These tents, which may be heated, must be limited to only one group of diners each and must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized between uses. These measures are being taken to help provide our restaurants with greater flexibility as the weather trends colder.”