Asbury Park defies Murphy, gives OK to indoor dining
ASBURY PARK — This shore city's Democratic City Council voted Wednesday night to allow both indoor and outdoor dining starting Monday in violation of the governor's executive order that only allows outdoor dining to resume next week.
Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn said the city believes restaurants can operate in a safe manner indoors just like they can outdoors.
City officials said local authorities will not issue citations to eateries that open their doors Monday but warned that the state might not follow suit.
The local resolution would be at odds with state rules.
Alyana Alfaro, a spokeswoman for the governor, noted that Executive Order 108 invalidates any municipal or county regulations that conflict with Murphy's emergency orders.
"Municipalities or counties may not enact or enforce any rule or ordinance conflicting with any of the provisions as stipulated," Alfaro said in an email on Thursday.
Murphy signed an executive order on June 3 allowing outdoor dining to begin on June 15 with health and safety protocols issued by the Department of Health, including a limit of eight customers per table and at least 6 feet of distance between parties.
Executive Order 152, meanwhile, went into effect on Monday, allowing indoor gatherings up to 25% of capacity for a maximum of 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 100. Murphy, however, said the order excluded indoor dining.
Quinn on her Facebook page said that the city's indoor dining resolution follows the executive order on indoor capacity.
"The only thing we did is added the ability to eat or drink," she wrote.
The resolution states that it is an attempt to help restaurants that have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also allows restaurants to offer outdoor dining on the sidewalks, parking lots and adjoining properties. They city may also block traffic to portions of Cookman, Emory, Mattison, Prospect, Comstock, Ocean, Third and Fifth avenues for outdoor dining, retail and recreation.
Quinn told the Asbury Park Press there was increased concern for the city’s restaurants after Modine announced it was closing.
Monmouth County Freeholder Executive Tom Arnone said the county supports the vote.
"This shutdown has critically impacted the livelihoods of our small business community and I’m proud to see local leaders take the side of small businesses. I know the businesses will continue to make the health and safety of their patrons and employees their top priority," Arnone said.
Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, R-Monmouth, applauded the city's decision.
"Allowing indoor gatherings but not allowing restaurants to open is shortsighted," DiMaso said on Twitter. "Many restaurants will never reopen, and that is just not right!"
DiMaso and state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, have criticized Murphy for not fully lifting restrictions on dining and school graduation ceremonies sooner.
“Based on the data that was shared and these new announcements from the Administration, it is very clear we could allow indoor dining immediately, or at the very least by June 12," the lawmakers said in a written statement. "Proceeding with outdoor-only dining by June 15 while ‘other’ indoor gatherings are allowed at a percentage immediately seems completely illogical and needlessly punitive.”
The city's resolution has the support of New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association President Marilou Halvorsen, who has been working with Murphy's office on protocols for reopening and making the case for allowing indoor dining sooner.
"Obviously, I understand that a lot of towns are anxious, especially those that have so many seasonal businesses located in them. I certainly understand why Asbury did what they did," Halvorsen told New Jersey 101.5.
Murphy is allowing places of worship to hold indoor services starting Friday, non-essential retail to reopen stores for customers on Monday and hair salons, barbershops and nail salons to welcome customers on June 22.
The governor has hesitated to open gyms and allow indoor dining over concerns about being in areas with poor ventilation and close contact while being sedentary.
More from Townsquare Media Monmouth-Ocean: