Word had gotten out Monday that Governor Murphy was going to tighten some restrictions due to the rise in positive COVID-19 tests so it was no surprise that once again he made the restaurant and bar business take the brunt of his actions.

During a daily briefing Murphy announced that beginning Thursday indoor dining at restaurants, bars, clubs and lounges basically has a 10 p.m. curfew. Nothing can be served after that time.  He doubled down on this by banning all barside seating under any circumstances in essence he is closing the bar area at all places.

While tables are to be six feet apart inside restaurants there is an exception if you can separate them by plastic barriers which I would think is cumbersome in many cases as well as expensive.

Again this impacts indoor dining which of course will be in greater demand as the weather turns in the weeks and months ahead.  These latest restrictions do not apply to outside dining areas but again in most cases these will see diminished use in winter months. Bottom line is an industry that has been dealt a significant number of blows since the pandemic began eight months ago once again faces a very uncertain future.

According to most polls (if you believe them) Murphy is popular and generally his handling of the coronavirus has been applauded.  While he insists that science and facts are the basis for his actions it does appear that one of New Jersey’s most important industries is always front and center when he’s looking to place blame for the rise in the outbreak.

I and many others expected he would take some action before Thanksgiving and the reason is fairly obvious.  College students who are away will be heading home for the holiday and most are staying home until sometime in January.  Of course many of them would have likely gotten together with others at bars and restaurants during this period which they can still do as long as they like early-bird dining.

I respect the governor for having to make tough decisions during a very tough and challenging time.  I just wish he would look at other alternatives and not continually take money out of the wallets of those who own and just as importantly those who work in an industry so vital to the local economy.

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