Terrific news this afternoon for Garden State restaurants, just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.  Effective this Friday, Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli have announced that New Jersey’s 10 pm, statewide, restaurant curfew is being lifted.  In addition, indoor seating capacity for dining will be bumped up to 35 percent.  The Governor made the announcement late this morning, although he indicated the “big game” really didn’t play into the decision of Executive Order 219.

Meanwhile, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop issued a joint statement this afternoon pertaining to bars and restaurants in their respective cities, which reads, “Based on guidance provided by Governor Murphy and the State of New Jersey, we have made the joint decision to allow bars and restaurants to operate during normal, regular business hours without a local curfew. Businesses must continue to follow the capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements put forward by the State. We trust that if Governor Murphy believed a curfew was necessary, it would still be in effect. But recent analysis from our health departments, as well as information provided by the New Jersey Health Department, suggests that a curfew at this time may no longer be necessary. This time around, we believe that a coordinated regional approach is the best way to implement safety measures, when necessary. Our public safety officers and City staff will be aggressively monitoring all bars and restaurants during overnight hours to ensure COVID-19 safety precautions are being taken at all times. If not followed, any bar or restaurant will be subject to immediate penalties, including but not limited to closure. We thank the large majority of business owners for continuing to take the necessary precautions to keep our residents and visitors safe when patronizing their establishment.”

Bayonne Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D – District 31) was the first member of the New Jersey Legislature to ask Governor Murphy to consider removing the 10 pm curfew and permit New Jersey’s bars to remain open until midnight on Super Bowl Sunday, February 7.  He did so in a letter dated January 14.

Governor Murphy stated this morning that the number of reported coronavirus cases at New Jersey’s hospitals had dropped by approximately 20 percent in the last three weeks.  That was the main reason for this morning’s announcement.

The Governor did stress, however, that the prohibition on seating at indoor bar areas will remain in effect, as it creates the danger of close and prolonged proximity between patrons, bartenders and servers.