Indoor dining returns in New Jersey with capacity limits, mitigation guidelines

New Jersey restaurants on Friday will be permitted to welcome diners inside for the first time since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

A week ago, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that restaurants would be allowed to reopen dining rooms at 25 percent capacity ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend. Tables must also be spaced at least six feet apart.

Additionally, restaurant staff will be required to wear masks at all times. Diners will be required to wear masks when they are not seated at their tables, and food and beverages can only be consumed at tables. 

Restaurants will also be asked to meet ventilation requirements like leaving windows open to ensure a proper flow of fresh air into the dining areas. Air conditioners must also be turned so that they’re allowing for the maximum amount of outdoor air to be introduced to the dining area.

"Reopening responsibly will help us restore one of our state’s key industries while continuing to make progress against #COVID19," Murphy said in his tweet.

Earlier this summer, the state had pulled the plug on plans to resume indoor dining back on July 2. At the time, Murphy called the postponement indefinite and cited a spike in cases in other states "driven by, in part by the return of indoor dining."

Movie theaters will also be allowed to reopen on Friday with mask rules and mitigation guidelines. Indoor events in New Jersey such as religious services, weddings, funerals, memorials and political activities can now accommodate up to 150 people.

New Jersey, one of the hardest-hit states in the nation with nearly 200,000 infections and more than 14,000 deaths, has made great strides in containing the spread of the virus. The Garden State's rate of transmission has been near or below 1% for the past several weeks and new daily case totals have plateaued.


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