Says it Should Have Happened Sooner, but ‘We’ll Take It’
New Jersey residents will be able to sip a drink at the bar for the first time in almost 14 months on Friday, and Governor Murphy announced plans to further relax COVID restrictions on indoor dining and outdoor events on May 19.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon welcomed Governor Murphy’s plans to lift restrictions on businesses later this month, but said the data supported easing the pressures on the economy weeks ago. (Pixabay)
“This isn’t perfect. Our finally catching up with our surrounding states is later than it had to be, but it is good news for our state’s businesses and residents as the summer season approaches,” said Senator Declan O’Scanlon. “This is what we were hoping to hear with Murphy’s ‘big announcement’ last Monday, but we’re happy and relieved it is finally happening now.”
On the 19th, New Jersey will join New York and Connecticut in rolling back the majority of restrictions on businesses.
“This is what the data has suggested we should be preparing to do for a while,” said O’Scanlon. “The spread of the virus has slowed dramatically as more residents have been vaccinated and the weather has warmed up. It is about time to loosen the reins, allow people to get out of the house and enjoy some ‘normalcy,’ and give businesses the chance to serve more customers.
“All along, the Republicans in Trenton have been making the case to lift restrictions faster,” O’Scanlon continued. “New Jersey has lagged almost every other state in the nation – needlessly hurting businesses with no health benefit. It’s about time we matched other states’ actions.”
At his Monday COVID briefing, Murphy announced serious conditional changes, beginning on May 19:
The limit on outdoor gatherings will be lifted, but attendees will be required to remain six feet away from other groups; the limit on indoor gatherings will be raised from 25 to 50 people; businesses and venues currently limited to 50 percent capacity, including indoor dining, gyms, amusement and recreation businesses will instead be subject to the six-foot social distancing rule. Bar seating also comes back . . . this Friday.
O’Scanlon said next he would like to see the easing of the six-foot requirements.
“The social distancing rules are unnecessary. We have to give people some credit for being responsible enough to take care of themselves,” O’Scanlon noted. “For small restaurants and bars, the six-foot rule means they won’t be able to increase capacity, even with the Governor’s announcement.
“The Governor is waiting for the CDC to make the call, but common sense and the data support doing away with the arbitrary six-feet of separation,” O’Scanlon said.
The Senator also urged Murphy to allow restaurants to accommodate parties of more than eight people for Mother’s Day.
“Let’s be dynamic here and lift the restriction on tables of more than eight in time for Mother’s Day,” O’Scanlon said. “We’re going to limit the number of family members who can treat Mom to dinner. Really? We can’t let sons and daughters – who know each other’s vaccination status – gather around the table on Mother’s Day? New Jerseyans have been following the rules for 14 months. We shouldn’t have to wait until May 19 to take care of this.”
Murphy also announced some changes to take effect on May 7, including lifting the ban on indoor bar seating and allowing dance floors at private catered events, including proms, to open.