NEW JERSEY – The nights are getting longer, temperatures are falling, and the allure of outside dining is waning. For restaurants struggling to stay afloat, especially in the north-west corner of the state, the 24th District legislators said the changing season is a very real threat to survival.
“It’s the cold reality. If the Governor fails to increase the capacity limit for indoor dining now, we will witness an inevitable catastrophe of business failures,” Senator Steven Oroho said. “The weather has changed and only the most hardened diners are willing to sit out in the cold for a bite to eat. Restaurants and taverns cannot possibly generate enough revenue at 25 percent occupancy to pay expenses and keep the doors open for business.”
Last week, Murphy noted the state has not seen “any evidence that there are any outbreaks” from indoor dining, and hinted at his willingness to increase the current limit on indoor dining. On the “Ask Gov. Murphy” show on News 12 New Jersey yesterday, however, the he said the increase isn’t likely to happen this week.
“I don’t understand what the Governor is waiting for. Restaurants are closing permanently. That’s not an exaggeration, and it’s not a threat. It’s reality,” Assemblyman Hal Wirths said. “The 25 percent cap is a slow torture for businesses and employees who can’t make enough money to make ends meet. We have seen evidence that restaurants can operate safely with precautions, and it is time to loosen the restrictions that are driving them to bankruptcy.”
Falling nighttime temperatures and inclement weather present problems for eateries across the state, but in Sussex, Warren and Morris counties, “the frost comes earlier and the freezes are harder,” Assemblyman Parker Space said.
“It’s the end of October, and outdoor dining presents additional challenges as temperatures drop. It will be too cold soon on most nights to enjoy a meal or a drink under a tent or on the patio,” Space said. “I own a seasonal pizza restaurant and we will be closing down this time of year anyway. For my colleagues who are dependent on year-round business, I can’t imagine what they must be going through. I worry about what will happen to them if the Governor won’t increase the capacity limits and give them a fighting chance to get through this crisis.”