Bipartisan plan to reimburse NJ restaurants for indoor-dining backtrack
TRENTON — Bipartisan legislation is being introduced in the state Senate and the Assembly on Thursday to offer financial help to restaurant owners who thought they would be allowed to partially reopen indoor dining but then were suddenly told the restart plan was being put on hold.
Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy announced limited capacity indoor restaurant dining would be allowed starting July 2. But a few days before the scheduled reopening, he said things would have to be postponed indefinitely because of COVID-19 spikes in other states and some New Jerseyans were getting sloppy about wearing masks and social distancing.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, said restaurant owners were not given adequate notice and so they should be reimbursed by the state.
He noted many restaurant owners who had been shut for months went out and spent thousands of dollars buying supplies that they suddenly couldn’t use.
“This reliance by restaurants on the governor’s promise to open requires the state to reimburse the restaurants for the money they put relying on the governor’s statement,” he said.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said he’s happy to advance the legislation because restaurant owners were caught between a rock and hard place when their reopening plans were dashed.
“It’s not bad enough that the situation is what it is,” he said. “When Jon came up with the idea I thought it was a very good idea and I agreed with him and I decided to introduce the bill.”
Bramnick said the measure sets aside $30 million from federal aid that hasn’t been distributed yet.
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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com