Judge halts Asbury Park plan for indoor dining before Murphy’s OK
ASBURY PARK — This Jersey Shore municipality backed off Friday on its plans to offer indoor dining beginning Monday, in defiance of a state order.
Asbury Park’s council had authorized restaurants this week to offer indoor dining with restrictions beginning Monday, violating Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order. After the state sued on Friday and a judge issued an order temporarily blocking the town's attempt, Mayor John Moor and the council released a statement Friday evening recommending that restaurants not serve diners indoors.
“We are advising Asbury Park businesses not to open indoors as we had announced earlier this week, as opening indoors would violate the court order and could jeopardize your business's liquor licenses” and subject businesses to fines and other penalties, the statement said.
As part of the second phase of the state's efforts to reopen its economy, Murphy has authorized outdoor dining and nonessential retail to resume on Monday but hasn't authorized indoor dining. Murphy said Friday he would crack down on businesses that weren't in compliance.
“We have one set of rules and they are based on one principle, and that is ensuring public health," he said. "The attorney general will be bringing a lawsuit as we speak against Asbury Park to enforce our order.”
Asbury Park’s resolution would have permitted restaurants to host diners inside at 25% of the building’s capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer.
Murphy has not indicated when restaurants will be able to reopen for indoor seating, aside from saying he hoped it would be “sooner rather than later.”
Business owners and town leaders have chafed at being forced to remain closed as the pandemic gradually subsides in New Jersey. Last month, health officials closed a southern New Jersey gym that had received several summonses after a highly publicized reopening in defiance of a state order.
The state recorded 495 new positive cases of COVID-19 Friday, marking two consecutive weeks in which the number has fallen below 1,000. New Jersey has had more than 166,000 recorded cases, more than any state but New York. Forty-eight more people died, bringing the state's total to 12,489.
Also on Friday, Murphy announced summer schools can begin in-person classes on July 6 if they adhere to safety protocols including social distancing, temperature checks and staggering pickup and drop-off times.
Personal care services including hair salons, barbershops and nail salons can reopen on June 22, as can pools and outdoor, non-contact organized sports.
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