Reaction to Governor Murphy’s Announcement that Indoor Dining May Resume at 25%

Reaction to this morning’s announcement by Governor Murphy that New Jersey eateries can resume indoor dining at 25 percent capacity this Friday, September 4 has been swift, and tempered.

NJBIA Statement on Partial Reopening of Indoor Dining

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka released the following statement regarding the partial reopening of restaurants that was announced by Gov. Phil Murphy today.

“Today’s decision by Governor Murphy to heed the strong call to reopen indoor dining with limited capacity before the holiday weekend is appreciated, but unfortunately long overdue.

“The fact is most restaurant owners were able to reopen their doors in a safe and responsible manner when they were originally permitted to do so with limited capacity on July 2.

“New Jersey essentially saw more than eight weeks of prime summer season go by the wayside, while our restaurant patrons went across the river to dine in Pennsylvania and Delaware. At the same time, any increase in transmission rates was ascribed to large outdoor parties.

“For restaurants in our shore and urban areas, and those eateries that are not able to accommodate outdoor dining, this unnecessary loss of their peak season will be more damaging, as many rely on that business to survive for the year.

“NJBIA has consistently maintained that creating public health and economic health are not mutually exclusive. Just as other business owners have reopened following state and federal safety guidelines, restaurants have deserved that same opportunity for too long.

“Once again, the odds are still long for restaurants to thrive with limited indoor capacity, particularly as we steer toward colder weather in the coming months when outdoor dining will not be as feasible. We are pleased that restaurants are finally getting their rightful opportunity to reopen indoor dining. But, for some, we hope it’s not too little, too late.”

Indoor Dining Decision Welcome, But Restaurants Can’t Make a Profit at 25% Capacity

Small Restaurants in New Jersey learned this morning from Governor Phil Murphy’s tweet that they will be allowed to open on Friday at 25% capacity for indoor dining. NFIB, which represents thousands of small businesses in the state, many of them restaurants, is pleased there is some movement on this issue but hopes if safe, there will be a quick expansion of the capacity limits. The following comments are from NFIB’s State Director in New Jersey, Eileen Kean:

“This has been a financial and emotional roller coaster for independent restaurant owners who were shuttered in March, then bought food in July when told they could reopen indoors, but that didn’t happen so they lost money and hope. Now months later, word comes from the Governor on Twitter they can reopen inside before Labor Day weekend, which is good but at 25% capacity they still can’t make a profit.”

“Many restaurants operate on narrow profit margins and only had a few months of cash reserves, so while loans and grants extended that, it has gone on so long that some had to close for good. Mostly those with savings, or who owned a building and didn’t have pay rent have lasted to this point. But they will only survive if they are safely able to increase to 50% and hopefully full capacity in short order.”