New Jersey Casinos, Restaurants, and Bars Reopen to Indoor Dining

Restaurants across New Jersey are now open to guests following a green light from the Government. However, the new directives impose a few restrictions, including physical distancing norms related to seating capacity and a ban on public smoking. Employees and guests must wear masks, except when dining of course, while children under the age of 2 are exempt from the rule.

Restaurants have been advised to follow deep clean practices, while the table sizes have been reduced to accommodate up to eight people at a time. Diners aren’t allowed to cluster inside the restaurant and are required to follow safe distancing norms.

Indoor Dining Permitted at 25% Capacity

According to Governor Phil Murphy’s statement earlier this week, restaurants statewide are permitted to reopen at 25% seating capacity. This is part of the government’s strategy to help local businesses get back up on their feet. Restaurants, bars, and diners remained shut since March 16 in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York to curb the spread of COVID-19.

While the ban on outdoor dining was lifted on June 15, restrictions on indoor activities remained. As revenue streams continue drying over the past six months, many businesses fear for survival. While others deem the government’s latest decision as “long overdue”.

4th of July celebrations generally plays a significant role in generating revenue for local restaurants. However, this year the gatherings were cut short, further stressing the coffers. Operators claim NJ businesses couldn’t take advantage of the peak summer season and lost revenue to nearby Delaware and Pennsylvania.

The latest push is for an increase in hosting capacity, at least to 50%, as the restaurants can’t pick up six month’s worth of slack by running at quarter capacity.

What this Means for Vegas Casinos

While the Governor hasn’t exclusively mentioned casinos in his latest public announcement, casino owners are hopeful of resuming in-house dining services. Refreshments are a significant part of the Vegas casino experience and have a significant contribution to operational revenue. The biggest news, however, is Murphy’s decision to allow public drinking in demarcated zones.

Open containers are now allowed on the boardwalk between Rhode Island and Sovereign Avenue, and non-residential areas near Gardner’s Basin. However, these open containers aren’t bring-your-own and must be purchased from a licensed operator in the area. More marked areas could be added to the list during special events.

Murphy believes these new relaxations will help boost revenue for casinos, restaurants, and bars suffering from quarantine blues while opening new entertainment avenues for residents recuperating from six months of lockdown.

This is a welcome change for NJ casino operators, who have witnessed a $112 million revenue slide in Q2 2020 compared to $160 million in profits in the same quarter last year. While casinos were allowed to operate at limited capacity since July 2, indoor bars and restaurants remained shut. Thus, posing a major challenge for the operators to retain patrons looking for refreshments. Hopefully, the new relaxations can soon help cut the slack!

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