Opening Indoor Dining Is Great News For Scotch Plains Restaurants

Jaime E. Love

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ — Scotch Plains officials expressed happiness to Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement to finally allow indoor dining to reopen on Friday amid the coronavirus.

“This is great news for our beleaguered restaurants, that are doing their best to survive with outdoor dining only, and in some cases take-out only!” Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith said. “Let’s continue to patronize our local restaurants, knowing this is a period of transition for them. To the extent you feel comfortable, please begin enjoying indoor dining while always keeping in mind that we should continue to practice good health and safety habits.”

Smith went onto note that new cases of residents who tested positive for the coronavirus remains low and no Scotch Plains resident has died from COVID-19 in over two months.

“I am grateful that the Governor is giving restaurants an opportunity to survive while acting in an abundance of caution by limiting indoor capacity to 25 percent. All of us must continue being vigilant to ensure that health risks do not rise,” Scotch Plains Deputy Mayor Joshua Losardo said.

Murphy announced on Monday that restaurants across the state will be able to open for indoor dining beginning at 6 a.m. this Friday, Sept. 4, at 25 percent capacity and with social distancing between tables. Read More: Gov. Murphy: NJ Indoor Dining To Resume Amid Coronavirus Crisis

While happy with the news Gene Jannotti, CEO of Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce, which includes Garwood, is hoping the capacity limitations will increase before the weather gets cooler.

“The Chamber is very pleased to see that we can finally have the ability to conduct indoor dining for all the restaurants. At 25 percent, they will still struggle but if everyone takes all the precautions necessary for a healthy atmosphere, our hope is for the capacity to increase before the weather precludes outdoor dining. All in all, this is way overdue,” Jannotti said.

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As of Tuesday, New Jersey has a total of 192,290 coronavirus and 14,170 deaths. Union County has a total of 17,124 cases and 1,185 deaths. Read more: NJ Coronavirus Updates: Here’s What You Need To Know

Along with capacity limitations, the state issued a list of rules for indoor dining:

  • Restaurants can only open indoors at 25 percent capacity.

  • Parties must capped at eight people, and tables must be 6 feet apart.

  • Staff must wear masks all times.

  • Diners must wear masks when not in their seats.

  • Food and beverages can only be consumed while seated.

  • Diners must keep masks on while waiting for food and once they’re eating and drinking is finished. “Walking around with a drink indoors will not be tolerated,” Murphy said.

  • You can only order food while seated at your table and only staff can bring you food and beverages.

  • You can dine at the bar but you must be properly socially distanced.

  • Groups seated at the bar must be capped at 4 people

  • Air conditioner units must be turned for outdoor air to flow into dining areas.

  • Windows must be open for air flow into dining areas

  • Restaurants must post signage saying that no one with a fever can enter the establishment.

  • Restaurants are encouraged to take reservations

  • Customers should wait in their cars if they have to wait for a table, and if social distancing can’t be maintained in outdoor waiting areas.

  • Buffets and salad bars are prohibited.

  • Restaurants should disinfect all commonly touched areas, such as menus.

  • Physical barriers should be posted at cash registers.

  • Employers must do daily health screenings of their staff.

  • Restaurants should ensure ventilation, heating and air conditioning units are working properly.

  • Air conditioning and heating units must be run two hours before and two hours after the facility is occupied.

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This article originally appeared on the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch

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