NJ & NY shut many businesses, eat-in dining starting Monday night
Bars, restaurants and movie theaters are being shuttered starting at 8 p.m. Monday throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut because of the novel coronavirus, the states' governors said.
The governors in a joint call with media Monday morning said other non-essential businesses will have an 8 p.m. curfew going forward, and gatherings of more than 50 will be barred.
Theaters casinos, gyms, racetracks and non-essential entertainment businesses must close entirely starting 8 p.m. Monday. Restaurants will be able to offer take-out and delivery only going forward, regardless of time of day. They'll be provided waivers for carry-out alcohol.
Medical offices will be able to remain open. Supermarkets and gas stations will still be able to operate after the curfew.
Tribal casinos in New York and Connecticut are not affected by the order.
This story has been updated to reflect further clarifications from Gov. Phil Murphy on what sorts of businesses are affected.
Pennsylvania is not part of the multi-state agreement, synchronizing policies across the neighboring states. Gov Phil Murphy said he's had "good back and forth exchanges" with Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolfe and is hopeful an agreement can be made with his state.
The steps mark the latest escalation of efforts to keep people apart in the New York metropolitan area, and an attempt to coordinate a response.
The governors also encouraged residents to strongly curtail travel and stay in their homes from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. until further notice.
They said public events of 50 or more will be banned, following Centers for Disease Control guidance this weekend urging the same. The CDC urged organizers of smaller events to consider canceling them as well, if adequate measures couldn't be taken to protect attendees.
“We've got to work through this together. The feds have been asleep at the switch," Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters on a conference call.
He, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy are Democrats.
"The federal government need to step up," New York Gov. Cuomo said. "They have been behind since day one on this crisis. We knew this was happening in China back in November ... (but we) are surprised in March and still scrambling to get testing in place and healhcare system in place. It's inexcusable," New York Gov. Cuomo said.
Cuomo also said that the Army Corp of Engineers will help improve hospital capacity in the region.
Marilyn Schlossbach, chairwoman of the NJ Restaurant & Hospitality Association and an Asbury Park-based restauranteur, said the loss of business was already creating a hardship for local businesses and their employees.
She suggested buying gift cards as one way to keep cash flowing to local merchants.
"Everybody’s main priority in the industry right now is to make sure employees are taken care of," Schlossbach, owner of Langosta Lounge, Asbury Park Yacht Club and Pop’s Garage said. "Covering payroll is a big one for small businesses."
Shore-area businesses depend on this time of late March into May as a way of building funds following the off-season of winter. Business funds already are depleted, Schlossbach said, and the "imminent pressure of not having income means vendors, employees won’t get paid," she said.
She said she's hopeful legislators will find more ways to support employees and businesses, perhaps through expanded unemployment benefits, sick leave or other financial support. The New Jersey Assembly was slated to consider a slate of measures meant to help communities through the crisis Monday.
For restaurants, the restrictions also mean unused inventory could expire if not redistributed. Schlossbach said she had spoken with the Boys and Girls Club of Asbury Park and pledged to transfer remaining inventory of essentials to help local families who are facing the challenge of meeting some basic needs right now.
The multi-state restrictions expand on several already in place in individual communities:
• Hoboken Sunday announced overnight curfews starting Monday, and restricted eat-in dining.
• West New York instituted overnight curfews. It also ordered all daycare centers to be closed from Tuesday through at least March 27.
• Morristown also barred eat-in dining and drinking in its restaurants and bars.
• Teaneck has asked all residents to self-quarantine. The Bergen County community has seen at least 18 positive coronavirus cases, accounting for the biggest cluster in a hard-hit county.
• The newly opened American Dream mall closed Monday.
• Westfield said it was closing foot traffic with all non-essential businesses in its downtown Special Improvement District, with the exception of pharmacies, health care providers and grocery stores. It asked other businesses including restaurants, shops, gyms and day care centers to close voluntarily. It said dental offices should be open for emergencies only.
• Red Bank ordered closed all non-essential businesses with occupancies of 25 or more, including all restaurants, bars, private gyms and theaters. It barred all eat-in dining and drinking, and all alcohol sales after Monday night.
• Plainfield instituted overnight curfews and barred eat-in dining.
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