TRENTON, NJ – The COVID-19 virus in New Jersey is apparently different than the COVID-19 virus in other states.

It isn’t?

One legislator in the New Jersey Senate wants to know why then, is New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy continuing to keep businesses on lockdown and restrictions when all of our neighboring states are moving towards reopening.

Yesterday, Maryland announced it will lift capacity restrictions in restaurants this coming Friday.  New York has agreed to lift capacity limits.  Connecticut will go to 100% on March 19th.  Pennsylvania has been at 50% capacity.

Yet, in Murphy’s New Jersey, restaurants are limited to 25%, and bar service is completely shut down.

Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) strongly criticized the Murphy administration following announcements by several states that they would dramatically increase indoor dining capacity limitations.

‘“All of our surrounding states are now nearly double or higher our current capacity limitations. New Jersey is, yet again, lagging needlessly behind,” said O’Scanlon. “We’ve been showing for months that restaurants are not the source of new case surges. Comparison data from other northeast states – in fact virtually all states – highlights this. New Jersey is no better off than others from a health perspective despite our suffocating 35 percent indoor dining capacity limits. And the downside on businesses and jobs is tragic.”

New York announced Sunday that restaurants outside NYC would be able to increase capacity to 75 percent starting on March 19, followed by Connecticut moving to 100 percent on the same date. In comparison, New Jersey moved to 35 percent on Feb. 5 after being stagnant at 25 percent since early September.

“New York is at 75 percent now, and Connecticut is moving to 100 percent. Yet the Governor continues to decimate our restaurant and hospitality industry by holding New Jersey at half that despite the science and data,” said O’Scanlon.

“The administration has not been able to substantiate the need for New Jersey to stay below 50 percent for the last eight months … and below 100 percent now. In fact, we’ve been able to substantiate very little due to them failing to allow citizens to OPRA pandemic information. We know the answer. There is no ‘science’ or ‘data’ determining dates or capacities. The administration has totally, incompetently dropped the ball. And that’s needlessly killing businesses and jobs.”

O’Scanlon has been one of a number of legislators critical of the Murphy administration’s assertion that the Emergency Health Powers Act allows them to refuse open public records requests for COVID-19 data. O’Scanlon is a co-sponsor of S-2751 which would make those records public; the bill unanimously passed the Senate and has been waiting for an Assembly vote.

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“We were past the time to increase capacity months ago. Now it is frankly ludicrous that the administration is ignoring all of this information in the face of dramatic increases from surrounding states, WITH ZERO NEGATIVE HEALTH IMPACT. To continue this absurd limitation is to – knowingly – economically decimate small businesses for no logical reason,” said O’Scanlon.

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