TRENTON (WCBS 880) — While shoppers in New Jersey can head back to malls beginning Monday, residents hoping to enjoy indoor dining will have to wait.
Indoor malls, which have been closed since mid-March, are reopening as the state progresses through Stage 2, of three, in restarting the economy.
Masks or face coverings are required for visitors and employees; all stores are limited to 50% capacity.
Restaurants inside the mall are limited to takeout and delivery, but they can provide in-person service if they have an outdoor area for dining. Indoor entertainment businesses, such as theaters and arcades, must remain closed.
While indoor dining was scheduled to begin again on Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday said that part of the reopening would need to be postponed.
“We had planned to loosen restrictions this week. However, after #COVID19 spikes in other states driven by, in part, the return of indoor dining, we have decided to postpone indoor dining indefinitely,” the governor posted on Twitter.
He continued saying, “The carelessness of one establishment can completely undo the good work of many others.”
The restrictions on restaurants included 25% capacity limits, tables spaced 6-feet part and mandatory face covering for staff.
However, seeing how some establishments had decided to ignore the rules and noting the spikes in other states that still allow indoor dining, Murphy said he is reconsidering.
“We have seen spikes in other states driven, in part, by the return of patrons to indoor dining establishments, where they are seated, and without face coverings, for significant periods of time,” he said. “We are also moved to take this step because of what we have seen in some establishments across the state of late.”
The governor said he was disheartened by overcrowding and a “complete disregard” for social distancing at some restaurants in the state.
The state reopened for outdoor dining on June 15 after about three months of restaurants operating for takeout or delivery only.
The announcement came as a bit of a shock to restaurant owners who had started accepting reservations and ordered extra food for the start of limited indoor dining.
While indoor dining is postposed, indoor retail has reopened in New Jersey, along with salons, barber shops and massage parlors.
New Jersey has had 171,000 positive cases of coronavirus and 13,121 confirmed deaths, as well as 1,854 probable deaths from the virus.