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AG: North Jersey Bars, Restaurants Face Liquor License Suspensions For Violating COVID-19 Rules

Five North Jersey bars and restaurants are in danger of temporarily losing their liquor licenses after allegedly violating COVID-19 safety protocols.

Altogether 12 businesses across the state face at least a 10-day suspension for failing to comply with ongoing restrictions placed on eating and drinking establishments, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

“As we’ve said before we take no pleasure in undertaking these actions, but we’re in the midst of a pandemic and we need everyone in the state to do their part to combat a surge in COVID-19,” Grewal said. “We will not allow a small percentage of bars and restaurants that disregard mitigation measures to jeopardize public health.”

Currently, bars and restaurants are not allowed to offer indoor dining after 10 p.m. and seating is banned at indoor bar areas at all times. Establishments must also enforce face coverings when patrons are not eating or drinking, maintain social distancing and adhere to a 25% capacity limit.

Charges Issued Against Local Establishments

  • Sarina’s Bar, Clifton. Cited for allowing patrons to consume alcohol while standing in a bar area; violating face-covering requirements; and for exceeding occupancy limits. Penalty sought: 25-day suspension.
  • Bar El Anochecer, Passaic. Cited for allowing patrons to be served while standing in a bar area, seated at a bar, and/or and not seated at a table; and for failing to enforce social distancing. Penalty sought: 20-day suspension.
  • Sports Bar Inn, Passaic. Cited for allowing patrons to be served while standing in a bar area, seated at a bar, and/or and not seated at a table; and for failing to enforce social distancing. Penalty sought:  20-day suspension.
  • Six26, Jersey City. Cited for violating 10 p.m. curfew and face-cover requirements; and for exceeding limit on number of patrons seated at a table. Also cited for hindering an investigation and allowing smoking indoors. Penalty sought: 85-day suspension.
  • La Rumba Paisa Tavern, West New York. Cited for allowing patrons to consume alcohol while standing in a bar area. Penalty sought: 10-day suspension.

Ongoing Enforcement Efforts

Since the restrictions went into effect in mid-March 2020 as part of an overall effort to slow the spread of the virus, the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has conducted nearly 500 random inspections of bars and restaurants to ensure compliance.

About 90% of businesses were following the rules, Grewal said, but around 200 restaurants have faced penalties, ranging from warnings to fines to license revocations. And even though the majority of licensees are adhering to the governor’s orders, Grewal said the state will continue its crackdown to catch those who are flouting the rules.

 “We will not allow a small percentage of bars and restaurants that disregard mitigation measures to jeopardize public health,” he said.

James Graziano, director of the ABC, said their enforcement actions “are necessary” to help “protect the health and well-being of all New Jerseyans.”

“Violators face serious consequences,” he added.

Daily Data

Over the weekend,  the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 528,054 with 11,467 total new PCR cases reported. There were 1,920 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 56,774. The total number of individual cases for the state is 584,828. Gov. Phil Murphy noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.

As for those that have passed, the state reported 130 new deaths, bringing that total to 17,827 The state listed probable deaths at 2,059, bringing the overall total to 19,886. State officials noted at least 61 deaths occurred in the last 48 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties over the weekend, Bergen had a total of 906 new confirmed cases and 221 probable cases, Essex 983 new cases and 122 probable cases, Hudson 878 new cases and 134 probable cases, Morris 564 new cases and and 137 probable cases, Passaic 508 new cases and and 80 probable cases, Sussex 275 new cases and 39 probable cases, and Warren 136 cases and 29 probable cases.

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,174, followed by Bergen at 2,110, Hudson with 1,581, Passaic at 1,351, Morris at 807, Sussex at 182 and Warren County at 173.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 266, Essex has 255, Hudson has 169, Morris at 187, Passaic at 159, Sussex has 46 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 6, was 11.9%; by region, the rate was 11.0% in the North, 12.2% in the Central region and 13.8% in the South. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. 

As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 1.08 from 1.05 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 3,589 patients were hospitalized on Jan. 10; by region, there were 1,475 in the North, 1,190 in the Central and 924 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 625 are in intensive care units and 431 on ventilators. Over the weekend, 906 patients were discharged, while 826 were admitted.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 51,412, followed by Essex at 51,293, Middlesex at 49,937, Hudson at 48,229, Passaic at 42,324, Union at 39,240, Ocean at 36,536, Monmouth at 36,462, Camden at 31,727, Burlington at 23,841, Morris at 22,549, Mercer at 20,475, Gloucester at 16.041, Somerset at 13,865, Atlantic at 13,801, Cumberland at 8,858, Sussex at 5,364, Warren at 4,467, Hunterdon at 4,293, Salem at 3,260, and Cape May at 2,658.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 5,478, followed by Union at 5,424, Ocean at 4,102, Essex at 4,161, Hudson at 3,807, Monmouth at 3,236, Morris at 3,600, Middlesex at 3,281, Passaic at 3,318, Atlantic at 3,295,  Somerset at 2,907, Camden at 2,874, Burlington at 2,326, Cape May at 2,441,  Gloucester at 2,021, Cumberland at 1,594, Mercer at 1,040, Sussex at 663, Warren at 462, Hunterdon at 421, and Salem 350.

Another 1,422 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 111 outbreaks involving 557 cases have been reported in 20 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with six new outbreaks involving 11 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 22 confirmed outbreaks with 102 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has five confirmed outbreaks with 13 cases, Warren has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases and  Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 83 cases. Morris is the only county in the state without an outbreak.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 430 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 13,267 of the cases, broken down between 6,441 residents and 6,826 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,182 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 30,759 residents and 19,796 staff, for a total of 50,555 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,583 on Jan. 8. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,454 residents deaths and 125 staff deaths.

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