Beer/bar. (Photo: Ruocaled/Flickr)
Beer/bar. (Photo: Ruocaled/Flickr)

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered new restrictions upon the restaurant industry Monday due to what the administration has identified as an uptick in coronavirus infections metrics.

Effective this Thursday, Nov. 12, all restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges that serve food and drink must close their indoor premises for business by 10 p.m. each day and cannot open again until 5 a.m. the following day. Outdoor dining may continue past 10 p.m. as can takeout or delivery services. The time restriction for indoor dining also includes Atlantic City casinos. The casinos, however, may continue gambling around the clock, though no food or drinks can be served to anyone inside. The order also included language specific to bars.

“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,” said Murphy.

Because some restaurants count their bar seating as part of their 25 percent of space allowed to be occupied under the present restrictions, Murphy said tables can be placed closer than six feet apart if there is a physical barrier between the tables.

The administration will also allow “dining bubbles” to continue operating – essentially, tents that can be heated and must be sanitized in between parties.

The governor said the newest regulations are not a repeat of the so-called “lockdown” that occurred in the spring, and the state’s economy will not be shut down – at least not yet.

“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,” said Murphy. “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.”

The administration also announced new restrictions on youth sports Monday.

Beginning Thursday, all interstate games and tournaments for indoor youth sports, up to and including high school, are prohibited for the time being, Murphy said.

“It simply is not safe for teams to be crossing state lines to participate in indoor competitions where there is a serious risk of spreading the virus,” he added.

“The essential thing is that we have to change our mindset,” Murphy went on to say. “We remain in the midst of a global pandemic and in case you missed it, our country is now recording more than 100,000 cases per day … every day, and New Jersey is back at levels we thought we left behind months ago. We have to snap back into reality. This virus has not gone away and it is posing its greatest threat to us in many months.”