Starting July 2, indoor dining and casinos will be allowed to reopen with up to 25% of maximum capacity, but with no more than 100 people.

Gov. Phil Murphy had shut down casinos and barred all sit-down restaurant service in March, in executive orders meant to curb social the business activities and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Outside dining resumed June 15, with limited capacity.

Marilou Halvorsen, the president of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said it's great indoor dining is starting before July 4.

"I know a lot of restaurants were really hoping to be open because some of them don’t have the capacity to do outdoor dining,” Halvorsen said.

Halvorsen said allowing indoor dining to resume operations at 25% capacity is not ideal, but it’s an important first step for all restaurants.

“And then we certainly just hope that number will go up to 50%, 'cause that really seems to be the sweet spot for restaurants to operate, at 50%. That’s kind of where they need to be in order to be profitable,” she said.

She said people can return to indoor dining in New Jersey in a couple of weeks with complete confidence.

“The industry is really good with our sanitation protocols. I think anyone who has been outdoor dining, been to a restaurant already has seen how seriously the restaurants are taking it,” Halvorsen said.

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Outdoor dining has been going well, but some customers have been pushing back against requirements they wear masks when going through restaurants, she said.

Halvorsen said the timing of Murphy’s announcement was very important -- not only for restaurants.

“Obviously, the casinos are the busiest in the summer, just by the nature of the fact that they’re situated on the beach, something that Las Vegas certainly doesn’t have," she said.

She added it’s great that both indoor dining and the reopening of the casinos were announced at the same time.

“It makes sense to do dining with that because you certainly can’t have people in the casinos without being able to offer them a place to eat or drink so it kind of works together nicely.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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