jersey shore

Showdown Over Indoor Dining Looming in Land of Springsteen

A judge has blocked Asbury Park from offering indoor dining operations at its restaurants

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A showdown over coronavirus restrictions may be brewing in Asbury Park, the New Jersey shore city often associated with rocker Bruce Springsteen.

The town's city council on Wednesday approved a resolution permitting its restaurants to host diners indoors on Monday, with some restrictions on capacity. That is in direct defiance of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order that allows outdoor dining beginning Monday but not indoor dining.

At his daily briefing Thursday, Murphy, a Democrat, said the town's plans “are inconsistent with my executive order. We cannot have one set of rules for one town and another for another town.”

Murphy said he has been in contact with Asbury Park officials. Asked if he would seek to enforce the order if restaurants offer indoor dining Monday, he said, "we will continue to enforce as evenly as we can and where we think public health is at risk.”

Asbury Park's resolution would permit restaurants to host diners inside at 25% of the building's capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn said the city took the action because restrictions implemented to control the coronavirus pandemic were taking a toll on the city’s restaurants. A popular eatery announced last week it would close permanently.

Allowing diners inside still carries risks.

“While the city of Asbury Park is not going to levy any fines against you, the state of New Jersey could,” Quinn, a Democrat, said.

Murphy gave no indication Thursday when restaurants will be able to reopen for indoor seating, aside from saying he hoped it was “sooner rather than later.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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