POINT PLEASANT — Action recently taken by Gov. Phil Murphy to increase indoor capacity limits and expand opportunities for outdoor dining in New Jersey have been lauded by local business owners.
An executive order that went into effect Feb. 5 increases indoor capacity limits from 25 percent to 35 percent for restaurants, bars and private nonprofit clubs, as well as entertainment and recreational businesses including casinos, gyms and personal-care services such as barber shops and nail salons. The order also lifts the 10 p.m. curfew for in-person indoor restaurant service.
Legislation signed Feb. 5 expands the framework for outdoor dining and extends the timeframe for municipalities to permit restaurants, bars and breweries to use outdoor spaces such as public sidewalks and parking lots as extensions of their business premises. Restaurants will be able to maintain their permits through Nov. 30, 2022, or the date at which indoor dining returns to full capacity at restaurants.
“With the indoor capacity, every little bit that we can get back to 100 percent is always welcome,” Frank Gullace Jr., of The Shore House Bar and Grill, told The Ocean Star.
“The expansion of outdoor dining, that was a huge boost for us, because it gives us a little more certainty as to what the plan is and how we can better plan for the future. We have a lot of staff in order to continue operating the outside, so it is good to see that we won’t have to make any cuts on that front, and can expand on what we were doing and continue to try to make it as nice as possible outside to give everybody the experience that they are looking for,” he said.
Mr. Gullace said The Shore House takes safety precautions very seriously.
“We have plexiglass dividers in between all the tables that can’t be properly six feet apart. As long as we feel we can continue to operate safely and efficiently, every increase that comes along is a welcome one,” he said.
Chelsea Sweerus, of Ocean Road Barber Shop, spoke about how the recent action could help the personal-care industry.
“For me particularly, it is not a huge improvement, because it kind of just gives me maybe more space for one or two more people to come in and wait, whereas before we could only have the people we were working on. But I can see it would be a huge, huge thing for hairdressers. They have a tendency to work on more than one client at a time and that was really stunted by the occupancy restrictions,” she said.
This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.
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