Want Indoor Dining? Murphy Doesn’t Sound Ready for it Anytime Soon
COVID-19 cases are shooting through the roof in Florida. Hospitalization rates in some Texas communities and southern California are spiking dramatically.
But New Jersey, on the other hand, continues to see a decline in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized and in the number of patients on ventilators. The rate of transmission has once again dipped below 1.0, and the Garden State’s positivity rate is 1.51, one of the lowest in the nation.
Nevertheless, Gov. Phil Murphy said he is continuing the ban on indoor dining in restaurants.
During his COVID-19 update in Trenton on Monday, Murphy agreed the RT is low — but “if we change course too soon it’s going to not only rise, but so will the number of positive test results, so will the number of hospitalizations, so will the number sadly of residents who pass," he said.
He said Jersey has the virus under control right now, but many other parts of the country do not, and that could affect the Garden State.
“Does the spike elsewhere make me nervous, make us nervous? Yes. You betcha. We are the United States of America, we can’t stop people at our borders,” he said. “There’s only so much we can do.”
New Jersey has ordered visitors from several other states seeing higher COVID-19 rates to self-quarantine, but doesn't have a strong enforcement mechanism connected to the requirement.
Murphy also noted New Jersey remains in the top 20 states in terms of the number of residents per capita in the hospital.
He said while our trends continue to be encouraging, we need to see them continue to move in the right direction for a period of time, without going back up — and said we must exercise great care in the steps we take before indoor dining can safety return.
“There’s one order of events here, and that’s crack the back of the public health crisis, and only then can you crack the back of the economic reality and open back up again," Murphy said.
Murphy had earlier said he'd allow indoor dining to resume at a limited capacity July 2, but reversed that decision with just days to go.
Murphy said Monday there is clear evidence most of the new cases of COVID-19 in other states are happening because of indoor activity being allowed.
He also said New Jersey needs federal assistance to be able to better help restaurants financially.
“We get it. We have nothing but sympathy. We’ll do everything we can to stand with you,” he said. “But we can’t do that at the expense of losing lives. We want to get back to indoor dining as much as anybody, but we’re seeing real-time proof we can’t get there yet.”