Murphy reverses order, bans smoking inside NJ casinos to prevent further spread of COVID-19

Casinos open amid pandemic
Photo credit Mark Makela/Getty Images
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Phil Murphy has changed course on his executive order and now says smoking will not be allowed inside New Jersey casinos. 
Murphy’s executive order from Monday allowed indoor dining to resume at 25% capacity and also permitted smoking inside casinos. But at his regular coronavirus briefing Friday, Murphy said he’s issuing a new order to prohibit smoking in indoor casinos.

Health advocates expressed concerns that secondhand smoke could spread COVID-19. 

“We have looked closely at the science and agree with the experts who concluded that allowing smoking is too big a risk to take,” he said.

Heading into Labor Day weekend, the governor also had words of caution for restaurant owners to follow social distancing rules. With indoor dining resuming, he’d like nothing more than to expand capacities. 

“But I cannot and we will not be able to do that if this weekend or the weeks that follow see a slew of restaurant owners and managers flagrantly violating the rules,” Murphy said. “We will not tolerate any violations and we will not be afraid to come down hard and make an example of those who think the rules don’t apply to them.”

Reminder: The capacity limits & health protocols we’ve put in place for indoor dining are not kind suggestions.They are mandated. We will not tolerate any violations.We want you to welcome your customers back inside but that must be done safely & in accordance with the rules.

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) September 4, 2020

Murphy has already done just that. The state suspended the liquor license of Burlington restaurant IL Portico after a reported 500 people attended a party there during the Fourth of July weekend, violating coronavirus orders.

The governor said the rate of virus transmission had ticked up to 1.03% — just above the key benchmark of 1%. However, Murphy sees no need to impose more restrictions at this time.​