Further restrictions are being taken in Atlantic City as the number of positive COVID-19 cases continue to grow in New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy has announced that effective November 12, restaurants in the state must close indoor services at 10pm. Operations cannot open back up until 5am the next morning. Casino restaurants are included in the venues that are not allowed to provide services. Venues can provide takeout orders and seat guests outside if available.
The gaming industry is not happy with the change along with traditional restaurants and dining establishments. For some time now, executives and gaming industry representatives have been asking Murphy to increase the capacity for indoor dining. Currently, only 25% is offered. Casinos want to be able to provide 50% in dining venues and begin hosting larger conventions again.
In a press conference this week, Murphy said that the last thing he wants to do is to shut down the economy again. He says the state is not at that point and steps are being taken to mitigate the increasing rate of the coronavirus spread.
Right now, New Jersey has over 256,650 cases of COVID-19. Just over 14,600 deaths have occurred due to the virus.
Casinos are Hurting
Casinos in Atlantic City are still trying to recover from the closure period due to the onset of COVID-19. The decision to stop the overnight food and beverage service is another big blow to the industry. Revenues are down and losses are major. Companies are trying to stay afloat as they struggle to cover additional costs to meet health and safety protocols as well as keep employees on payroll.
Governor Murphy said that he does understand that without dining and drink service after 10pm that the casino floors will see a reduction in player participation. However, gaming operations can continue to take place around the clock.
Other lawmakers are not happy with the change, particularly for South Jersey. Many lawmakers in the state are concerned about the one-size-fits-all approach. Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo said that businesses in South Jersey are hurting and blanket restrictions are not what was expected.
State Senator Michael Testa called the governor out for saying the approach was a surgical one when instead it appeared as though an ax was being welded. Testa said that the measure enacted by the governor is one that is a destructive overreaction.
Testa said that the governor should be looking at areas where the virus is high in spread count and then target those areas specifically. Instead, the change is across the state and affecting businesses in areas that might not be heavily affected.
Governor Murphy has been tough when it comes to trying to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He is now encouraging everyone in the state to wear a mask when out in public so hopefully the trend of increased positive cases will go down and no further action will need to be taken regarding any closures or restrictions. We shall see what happens in the future and keep a close eye on any developments.