UPDATE: Indoor dining for the state of New Jersey has been postponed.
After roughly four months of quarantine and self-isolation, the world is finally starting to take the next steps into recovery. Though some east coast states such as Delaware and Maryland began their reopening process last weekend, New Jersey is still undergoing some restrictions–that is, until June 22.
Governor Phil Murphy announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that New Jersey would be opening casinos and indoor dining at a 25 percent capacity starting July. Along with this, there will be strict health guidelines implemented within the next few days in order to ensure the safety of their customers; some of these guidelines will include health screenings and mandatory masks to be worn inside casinos, Murphy said.
Atlantic City casinos have been temporarily shut down since March 16 and have been experiencing a major financial blow ever since. Joe Lupo, president of the Hard Rock Casino spoke to WBAL Philadelphia saying that he is excited, “To be open for the July 4th weekend to meet the demand on the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.”
Murphy live-streamed a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday the 23rd where he announced the plans for New Jersey, in what he is calling, “the middle of phase one. We are proud to announce even more steps that we are able to take in our restart and recovery,” Murphy said.
He said that organized sports and non-contact drills will resume, as well as outdoor pools to be open, on the 23. Murphy went on to say that shopping malls would reopen on June 29 and both indoor and outdoor gatherings to increase capacity by 25 percent–effective immediately.
The reopening of casinos and indoor dining is still scheduled to be in effect on July 2 at 25 percent capacity, “this means that thousands of New Jerseyans can get back to work,” said Murphy, “moving forward we fully anticipate increasing the indoor [capacity] number.”
Though 25 percent capacity sounds great, what does the percentage really mean in terms of people? The Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City has a capacity of 7,000, 25 percent of that would come to 1,750. This means that Hard Rock will only allow about 1,750 people inside their casino as of right now.
Restaurants have an even lower capacity than casinos, so what does this mean for a night out? In an interview with Wine Magazine, Ti Martin, owner of Commander’s Palace restaurant said, “the profit margin is so thin at restaurants, at 25 percent it doesn’t work.”
Even if 25 percent seems like a low number, Murphy says that he will continue to have COVID-19 live-stream updates with new openings and important announcements, saying that these are, “just the first of what will be multiple reopening announcements we intend to make throughout this week as we finalize our dates.”
To watch these live-streams and keep yourselves informed, you can visit Gov. Phil Murphy on Twitter, Facebook or Youtube. Each live-stream is typically an hour long and takes place at 1 p.m. is still undergoing some restrictions–that is, until June 22.