With Gov. Phil Murphy signing an executive order Oct. 12 allowing for indoor contact sports, Assemblyman Brian Bergen the next day said the time has come to expand indoor dining.
Bergen (R-25) argued the executive order, allowing for indoor contact sports like basketball and hockey to resume provided capacity was limited to 25% and appropriate social distancing, was founded on arbitrary criteria.
“If we can allow indoor contact sports, we can allow indoor dining. The separation of the two is absolutely ludicrous,” contended Bergen.
Comparisons to Sports Clubs
In addition to contrasting restaurants to the indoor sports order, Bergen noted gyms and other indoor health clubs were allowed open at 25% capacity a month and a half earlier.
The Assemblyman argued the state did not see an associated uptick in coronavirus cases since the opening of the health clubs. The activities in the new executive order caused the same concerns as the reopening of health clubs.
“We should move to 50% occupancy for indoor dining today and proceed to 100% as quickly as possible thereafter. The selective application of science is getting tiring,” Bergen said.
Ray of Hope
One person who agrees with Bergen is the governor himself. According to published reports, Murphy did say his decision to allow indoor winter sports should be seen as a positive sign.
“I would think if you’re in that realm of a restaurant or another indoor organization, you’ll view that as a good sign,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to make sure we have our arms around exactly why we’re seeing the numbers we’re seeing. We continue to like what we see coming out of restaurants and indoor gyms.”
The governor addressed the issue of limited capacity for indoor dining at a press briefing Oct. 8. When asked if the state was closer to tightening or lifting restrictions for restaurants, he said a recent uptick in cases did not seem linked to indoor dining.
Additionally, Murphy expressed support for the industry, saying he hoped they could reopen sooner rather than later. He mentioned speaking with Assemblyman Harold Wirths (R-24) about reopening in smaller increments, like a 10% jump rather than 25%.
“I thought that was actually a fair suggestion, and we’re kicking the tires on that,” Murphy said.