N.J. coronavirus recovery: Indoor dining is on pause

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wears a mask during his daily coronavirus news conference in Trenton, N.J. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool)

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Updated: 4:45 p.m.

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New Jersey reported 156 new COVID-19 cases and an additional 18 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus on Monday. The state has recorded a total of 171,272 cases and 14,992 deaths.

Currently, there are 978 people in hospitals across the state and 225 in intensive care.

Indoor dining on pause until ‘a later date’

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday the state will hit pause on allowing indoor dining.

He said the combination of spikes in cases in other states and “the instances of knucklehead behavior” at some Garden State establishments drove the decision.

“We have all seen the scenes: overcrowding, a complete disregard for social distancing, very few — if any — face coverings,” Murphy said.

He added the “carelessness” of one business can undo the “good work” of many others.

“Compliance is not a polite suggestion, it is required,” he said.

Casinos will still be allowed to reopen with limited capacity on July 2, while banquet halls are affected by Murphy’s decision to keep indoor dining off-limits. The governor said he is comfortable with making the distinction between the two.

“If you look at the other inside things that we’re allowing to go forward — a casino, library, museum, to pick three – face coverings are absolutely mandatory,” Murphy said, “and you don’t have quite the, if not nearly the same sedentary, close proximity reality that you do with indoor dining.”

Pregnant women no longer need to choose between partner and doula

State health officials also announced during Monday’s briefing that pregnant women are no longer limited to having one support person with them at hospitals.

Doulas will now be allowed in addition to another support person, such as a partner or relative.

“Doulas support healthy pregnancies by providing culturally appropriate social and emotional support to pregnant women throughout their prenatal period, labor and delivery, as well as their postpartum period,” said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

The department limited expectant mothers to having one support person with them in late March as COVID-19 cases surged.

Malls reopen across New Jersey

New Jersey shoppers can return to indoor shopping malls Monday.

Physical distancing is required under the state’s reopening guidelines, and other coronavirus-related restrictions remain in place.

“All mall customers will be required to wear face coverings. Please abide by that at all times, with the exception of residents solely with medical conditions which make wearing a face-covering impossible,” Murphy said at a press conference.

Shops inside malls must be limited to 50% capacity and employees must wear masks. Food courts and common areas must be closed or cordoned off, but restaurants may offer take out and in-person table service in areas outside the mall building.

Beaches have been open for a few weeks and many other non-essential businesses are running at half-capacity.

Museums, aquariums, libraries and other indoor recreations will reopen with limited capacity Thursday, along with outdoor amusement parks, water parks and playgrounds. Gyms and fitness centers may also reopen outdoor spaces and offer individual indoor sessions by appointment.

On Monday, youth day camps and summer programs can open, schools can hold outdoor graduation ceremonies and NJ Transit will expand services.

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