NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka released the following statement regarding the partial reopening of restaurants that was announced by Gov. Phil Murphy today.

“Today’s decision by Governor Murphy to heed the strong call to reopen indoor dining with limited capacity before the holiday weekend is appreciated, but unfortunately long overdue.

“The fact is most restaurant owners were able to reopen their doors in a safe and responsible manner when they were originally permitted to do so with limited capacity on July 2.

“New Jersey essentially saw more than eight weeks of prime summer season go by the wayside, while our restaurant patrons went across the river to dine in Pennsylvania and Delaware. At the same time, any increase in transmission rates was ascribed to large outdoor parties.

“For restaurants in our shore and urban areas, and those eateries that are not able to accommodate outdoor dining, this unnecessary loss of their peak season will be more damaging, as many rely on that business to survive for the year.

“NJBIA has consistently maintained that creating public health and economic health are not mutually exclusive. Just as other business owners have reopened following state and federal safety guidelines, restaurants have deserved that same opportunity for too long.

“Once again, the odds are still long for restaurants to thrive with limited indoor capacity, particularly as we steer toward colder weather in the coming months when outdoor dining will not be as feasible. We are pleased that restaurants are finally getting their rightful opportunity to reopen indoor dining. But, for some, we hope it’s not too little, too late.”