TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey bars and restaurants must halt indoor dining from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Thursday in an attempt to control a resurgence of the coronavirus, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.
“We need to change our mindset, we have to shake off the pandemic fatigue that we all feel,” the Democratic governor said during a news conference in Trenton.
Takeout and outdoor dining may continue past 10 p.m., Murphy said. Another change allows restaurants to seat tables closer than 6 feet apart if they erect a barrier. Seating at bars will also be prohibited, the governor said, pointing to Health Department officials citing outbreaks among bartenders.
He also said that all indoor interstate athletic events will be prohibited.
“This is not forever and always. We basically have a six-month window to beat the virus into the ground,” he said, noting that the state is entering a second wave of the outbreak.
It comes as the coronavirus rate of infection and number of cases climbs higher in New Jersey and across the country.
Over the past seven days, an average of about 2,000 people per day have been infected by the virus, up from a rate of about 370 per day in August, according to state figures. There have been 14,640 deaths and about 256,000 virus cases in the state since the pandemic started.
Health officials have said that indoor settings make it easier for the virus to spread compared with outdoors, and Murphy has long promised to return to closures if the virus caseload spiked again.
During the hours they are allowed to be open, bars and restaurants will still be subject to indoor dining restrictions limiting capacity to 25%, a restriction that many businesses and Murphy’s political rivals say hurts their bottom line.
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