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New Jersey Puts Indoor Dining On Pause Indefinitely Because Of Coronavirus

Indoor restaurant dining in New Jersey, initially set to open Thursday, is postponed indefinitely.

Gov. Phil Murphy announcedon Monday that restrictions will remain in place, citing surges in COVID-19 cases in other states "driven by, in part, the return of indoor dining."

"We've always said that we would not hesitate to hit pause if needed to safeguard public health," Murphy tweeted. "This is one of those times."

The announcement comes as some states are experiencing COVID-19 spikesand walking back their own reopening plans.

After Texas reported three consecutive days of record-breaking case increases, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars to close and restaurants to reduce their seating capacity. And in California, officials mandated the closure of all bars in seven counties and recommended closures in eight others.

Murphy saidthat social media and news reports showing overcrowding, social distancing violations and a lack of face coverings at some establishments statewide also contributed to the decision to delay indoor dining.

Outdoor dining reopened in New Jersey on June 15 under Stage Two of the state's restart and recovery plan. Food and beverage establishments must follow health protocols including seating no more than eight people at a table and spacing parties at least 6 feet apart.

Murphy notedthat many establishments and patrons are complying with reopening requirements, and urged others to do the same.

"The carelessness of one establishment can completely undo the good work of many others," he wrote. "We will not tolerate outlier bars and restaurants — and frankly, patrons — who think the rules don't apply to them."

New Jersey was one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus earlier this spring, but brought the number of new cases down significantly after weeks of restrictive measures. It was one of the last states tolift its stay-at-home order, doing so only on June 9.

The state was recording more than 3,000 new cases a day for much of April, with cases shrinking gradually over the course of May and June. Murphy saidMonday that 156 new cases had been reported, bringing the state's cumulative total to 171, 272.

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Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.