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November 09, 2020

New Jersey to curb indoor dining service as COVID-19 cases spike

Interstate travel for indoor youth sports also to be banned

Government Coronavirus
New Jersey indoor dining restrictions.jpg Edwin J. Torres/New Jersey Office of the Governor

New Jersey has enacted new restrictions on restaurants due to rising COVID-19 cases. 'The last thing I want to do is shut our economy back down,' New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy says.

For months, Gov. Phil Murphy has pledged to re-enact pandemic-related restrictions if COVID-19 cases began to escalate in New Jersey. 

He fulfilled that promise Monday. 

Starting Thursday, restaurants and bars will need to shut down indoor dining between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. every night. Bar seating will be prohibited. The latest measure also impacts clubs, lounges and casinos. 

During the hours that indoor dining is permitted, groups can be seated within six feet of one another if plexiglass partitions are installed.

Outdoor dining, as well as takeout and delivery services, can proceed without any alterations. The state also is allowing restaurants to set up individual, fully-enclosed tents for customers as the weather becomes colder.

"The last thing I want to do is shut our economy back down," Murphy said. "Thankfully, we're not at that point. We're taking steps today to mitigate the current increasing rate of spread. We must shake off pandemic fatigue and get back into the mindset that saw us crush the curve this spring."

The restrictions come as New Jersey reported 2,075 additional COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the statewide total to 256,653. The state has recorded more than 9,500 new cases over the last four days.

There have been 14,640 lab-confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 since the public health crisis began in March.

The coronavirus is surging across the country, with many states, including Pennsylvania, reporting record daily case totals in recent days. 

Indoor dining resumed in New Jersey in September after being shut down for nearly six months. 

It initially was slated to resume in early July, but it was postponed indefinitely after COVID-19 cases spiked in other states that had reopened restaurants during the summer.

New rules for youth sports

Interstate travel for organized indoor sports at the elementary and high school levels will be prohibited beginning Thursday. Travel within New Jersey for youth sports will still be allowed.

"It is simply not safe for teams to be crossing state lines at this time to participate in indoor competitions," Murphy said.

Collegiate and professional sports are exempt from the state’s new protocols.

All indoor sports have been allowed to have contact practices and competitions since last monthThe high school winter sports season in New Jersey already has been cleared to begin next month

Depending on the sport, the postseason will be structured regionally based upon counties or NJSIAA sections in order to limit travel. Out-of-state competition is prohibited, unless a waiver is granted for a special circumstance.

Beginning in June, the state greenlit youth sports to resume through a multi-step process.

The NJSIAA postponed two indoor fall sports — girls volleyball and gymnastics — until the spring season due to the pandemic.

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