Nearly a dozen bars and restaurants accused of violating New Jersey's latest round of COVID restrictions on indoor dining face charges Friday from the state attorney general's office.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has announced charges against 10 bars and restaurants for allegedly violating some of Gov. Phil Murphy's newest restrictions enacted last month to limit the spread of the virus in indoor spaces. The state found the establishments in violation of orders suspending indoor services between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., limiting indoor capacity to 25 percent, suspending seating at bars, and enforcing the use of face masks and social distancing indoors.
"We will not tolerate knucklehead behavior and we will no hesitate to shut you down," Murphy said Friday.
The charges seek to suspend liquor licenses for each of the 10 businesses; the shortest suspension sought is 10 days, the longest is 115. Grewal said additional charges would be forthcoming.
"Results of our enforcement sweeps thus far demonstrate that the majority of licensees are following the Governor's orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Grewal said in a press release Friday. "Those who flout curfews, seating restrictions, face covering mandates, and other mitigation measures will face consequences."
Of some 500 inspections conducted in the last month, Grewal says nearly 90 percent of establishments have been in compliance with Gov. Murphy's latest COVID restrictions.
Adam Zebib owns George Street Ale House in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He says one of the violations brought against his restaurant was the result of a customer asking for a cup of water. The customer got a cup of water from the bar, but because bars are supposed to be shut down, this ale house gets a 25-day suspension. The extra days were also for having a karaoke singer on site without a mask that same night.
"People are scared to go out anyway. Dinner business isn't what is was before. My other friends own restaurants, everything's getting crushed right now," Zebib said.
The following bars and restaurants were identified by Grewal's office on Friday for allegedly violating state orders:
- Eddy's Bar & Liquors, Bayonne. Cited for allowing patrons to sit at the bar and for failing to enforce face covering requirements. Penalty sought: 15-day suspension.
- Wicked Wolf, Hoboken. Cited for allowing patrons to sit at the bar. Penalty sought: 10-day suspension.
- Reilly’s Bar & Grill, Kearny. Cited for violating 10 p.m. curfew, allowing patrons to consume food/drink while not seated, and exceeding occupancy limits. Penalty sought: 30-day suspension.
- Graystone Inn, Little Falls. Cited for allowing patrons to sit at the bar, and exceeding occupancy limits on two separate occasions. Penalty sought: 40-day suspension.
- George Street Ale House, New Brunswick. Cited for allowing patrons to sit at the bar, and failing to enforce social distancing and face covering requirements. Penalty sought: 25-day suspension.
- Black Betty's Saloon, Sayreville. Cited for allowing patrons to sit at the bar, and failing to enforce social distancing and face covering requirements. Also cited for allowing lewd activity on premises. Penalty sought: 70-day suspension.
- 30 Strikes, Stratford. Cited for violating 10 p.m. curfew. Penalty sought: 10-day suspension.
- Jalapenos Bar and Grill, Gloucester City. Cited for allowing patrons to sit at the bar, and failing to enforce face covering requirements (second offense). Penalty sought: 20-day suspension.
- 814 South Pub & Kitchen, Somerdale. Cited for violating 10 p.m. curfew, failing to maintain a six-foot distance between tables, and failing to enforce face covering requirements. Penalty sought: 25-day suspension.·
- B&B Saloon, Atlantic City. Cited for allowing patrons to sit at the bar, exceeding occupancy limits, and failing to enforce social distancing and face covering requirements. Also cited for allowing alcohol to be consumed beyond the licensed premises, hindering an inspection, employing a criminally disqualified individual, and violating conditions imposed on the license after a shooting left two people dead last month. Penalty sought: 115-day suspension.