Press Release
Senator Declan O'Scanlon Senator Declan O'Scanlon (R-13)
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Contact: Robbie Kenney / (609) 847-3600
September 25, 2020
O’Scanlon & DiMaso: Prominent Restaurants on Precipice

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Open 66 Percent Dining Before too Late

Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (both R-Monmouth) emphasized their previous call for an immediate increase for indoor dining capacity to 66 percent following yet another desperate message from a prominent restaurant owner who indicated they might close very soon without a substantial indoor dining increase.

Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman DiMaso said restaurants are hurting and if Murphy doesn’t immediately increase the indoor dining capacity to a minimum of 66 percent, the results could be devastating to the entire industry. (Pixabay)

“It was absolutely stunning to me when I got this message from this restaurateur. This is a prominent restaurateur, his family and restaurant are beloved throughout Monmouth County. This is the last restaurant I’d expect to hear this from. If this individual is this close to the precipice we are in danger of losing them all,” said O’Scanlon. “This is a direct text and if this individual does pull the trigger it will be a shock to Monmouth County and to the State industry.”

    “Sorry to bother you I know you’re a busy man but I was wondering if there has been any word on Murphy raising the indoor dining percentage from 25% to your proposed 66% because if that doesn’t happen sooner than later I’m going to have to throw the towel in  it’s just not enough to keep the doors open  and I would like to give my staff ample notice. I mean looks like we may have this week on our side but that’s probably it. Unfortunately I cannot put outdoor heaters under our canopy due to the obvious fire hazard and after September 30 the road closure which allowed us to put tables out in the street ends… lmk thanks”

“The evidence is clear from all of our surrounding states – Indoor dining at 50 percent to 100 percent capacity can be done safely. We are way behind our Northeast neighbors virtually all of which have been open far longer than we have and at capacities ranging up to 100 percent. None of them are reporting spikes due to indoor dining.” O’Scanlon continued. “The science isn’t different in New Jersey.

“There is virtually zero health benefit to this foot-dragging, but the financial toll is serious, and soon to be horrific for hundreds more establishments. When they go, so do the jobs so many depend upon, and so does the economic activity that’s the lifeblood of our economy,” said O’Scanlon. “This irrational hesitance must stop. We need to open up immediately to 66 percent indoor capacity, or higher. We need to give options, such as dividers between tables – to those who can’t separate tables far apart enough. It’s way past time!”

“We hear every single day from beleaguered restaurant owners who don’t know how to continue like this,” said DiMaso. “The Governor claims we need to see a sustained lack of outbreak, but we’ve already seen that. And even yesterday in his conversation with Dr. Fauci, the Governor was told that we are in a good position to continue the reopening of our economy. These businesses cannot take much more and, frankly, I don’t know what the administration is waiting for anymore. We cannot give them scraps and then continue this months-long wait for an indication that there is an end in sight for them, particularly with all the information we have from our surrounding states.”

“Looking at evidence from other states, where they have seen some spikes in transmission, the cause is very rarely traced to restaurants,” O’Scanlon stated. “Contact tracers are finding connections to college students, parties, and less frequently, within K-12 settings. We expected this, we knew there would be some transmission when we went back to school. But our school districts are prepared and adequately responding to new cases.”

“Our own robust contact tracing program that the Governor regularly lauds has shown that many of our new cases are not traced to indoor dining but to a few youth sports or mishandled gatherings from the holiday weekend,” DiMaso continued. “We cannot continue to decimate an industry when we have scientific evidence that indoor dining is not responsible for new case spikes.”

“This communication from a prominent restaurateur is a very clear, very concerning indication that we are standing over the ledge of potential collapse of a massive industry in New Jersey. The administration has already made potentially irreparable mistakes in its handling of indoor dining. What happens next appears likely to define the future of our restaurant industry. If we fail to move quickly, we’ll see a massive influx of even more individuals who will join our over 1.5 million people on unemployment. The business owners will lose everything,” said O’Scanlon. “The Governor simply cannot wait any longer to increase to 66%. To do so will lead to a shocking and tragic outcome.”

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