Reopening New Jersey: Asbury Park votes to defy Gov. Murphy, will allow indoor dining

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Thursday, June 11, 2020
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Asbury Park is defying New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order and will allow limited indoor dining at its restaurants.

ASBURY PARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Asbury Park is defying New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order and will allow limited indoor dining at its restaurants.

The City Council Wednesday approved a resolution permitting its restaurants to host diners inside at 25% of the building's capacity or 50 people, whichever is less, beginning June 15.

The governor on Tuesday set similar restrictions for indoor gatherings, when he announced only outdoor dining for bars and restaurants could resume on June 15. It has not yet been determined when restaurants can reopen for indoor seating.

"All of our efforts today have been centered around the basic principles of protecting health and protecting people," Murphy said. "We rely on science and data. That's why we've been clear about two things: Public health creates economic health, and data determines dates. We have come too far together to see all the good 9 million New Jerseyans have done, undone in haste."

WATCH: Murphy: cannot have communities mirroring cavalier actions taken in other states

Despite the vote, the council acknowledged there could be consequences.

"While Council has approved indoor food and beverage service with restrictions, businesses should be aware this could be overruled by the State of New Jersey," a press release read. "Since Governor Murphy has not yet allowed indoor dining, participating businesses could be considered in violation of Executive Orders and may be subject to fines by the State of New Jersey."

The indoor dining is part of the City Council's "ReOPEN Asbury Park: Business & Community Recovery Strategy plan," which aims to expand capacity for restaurants and retail, utilize public space as a mechanism to allow people to maintain social distancing, and provide opportunities for residents to safely enjoy their neighborhoods.

The plan, which will launch as a pilot, will implement open streets on a temporary basis, allowing residents the opportunity to maintain social distancing while participating in recreational activities.

Murphy said he was sympathetic to the plight of businesses and local economies, but he said safety comes first.

"One step forward today cannot, must not, will not lead to two steps back tomorrow," he said. "It's about saving every single life that we can save together. So the actions of the Asbury Park governing body, a great community in the state, bless their hearts, their actions are inconsistent with my executive order. We cannot have one set of rules for one town and another for another town. We move as one state. guided by data."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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