New Jersey bars and restaurants are required to close indoor service every day at 10 p.m. starting today and indoor interstate youth sports up to the high school level are banned in a new round of restrictions meant to stop the increase in new cases of the coronavirus that go into effect Thursday.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the new measures on Monday and issued the executive order with the details the following day. And while the restrictions fall far short of the unprecedented closures ordered in March as the coronavirus outbreak hit New Jersey, it’s the first statewide steps Murphy has ordered in response to the escalating second wave.
They go into effect a day after health officials announced 3,078 new cases — the third time in five days with more than 3,000 cases — and 15 additional deaths as hospitalizations continue a steady climb to levels not seen since early June. The seven-day average for new positive tests increased Wednesday to 2,655, a 50% increase from a week earlier and 237% higher than a month ago.
Indoor interstate sports will end for elementary, middle and high school students. The new restrictions won’t affect college or professional sports, and does not apply to outdoor sports.
- Outdoor dining, takeout and delivery services can continue later than 10 p.m..
- Casinos may remain open but are not allowed to serve food and drinks from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in restaurants, bars or the casino floor. Room service and takeout is allowed and other areas of the casino will not be impacted by the order.
- Recreational facilities, retail establishments and entertainment venues that are allowed to open past 10 p.m. are still banned from serving food indoors during those hours.
- With winter approaching, businesses are allowed to setup plastic outdoor “domes” for dining to be used for one group each. “Each party is limited to no more than eight individuals at a time,” the order states. The outdoor domes must also include ventilation, be cleaned and comply with safety codes among other regulations.
- Patrons will not be allowed to sit at the bar of indoor areas in bars and restaurants during all hours. Service to customers standing in bar areas will also continue to be banned.
- Citing the possible impact on establishments with small seating areas, the order allows restaurants to have groups at tables indoor that are closer than six feet if they are separated by barriers that comply with health department guidelines.
- The indoor dining order does not apply to airports. At Newark Liberty International Airport, officials have said concessions are offering grab-and-go food because of the pandemic. The food court has remained open with health measures in place, according to the Port Authority.
Restrictions for indoor sports:
- All interstate games and tournaments involving indoor sports, up to and including high school teams, will be barred.
- The order does not impact outdoor sports.
- College and professional sports are not covered by the order. Those programs, the order said, were able to put in place coronavirus-prevention efforts, including subjecting participants to regular testing and mandating where players live.
- The order defined “indoor interstate youth sports competition” as any “indoor interstate youth sports competition that is conducted indoors with opposing teams or individuals from different states competing against each other and which would require an opposing team or individual to travel from a state outside of New Jersey.”