TRENTON, NJ – Since last March, New Jersey has been one of the most restrictive and locked down states in America. The restaurant industry has taken one of the biggest hits under a restrictive lockdown that has now exceeded one year for the state’s bars, restaurants, and indoor entertainment venues.
Even at 50% capacity, the industry is finding it difficult to recover. The rules in place by Governor Phil Murphy which restrict capacity closed bar service and for a while, restricted hours made it nearly impossible for restaurants to survive unless they were able to think on their feet and outmaneuver their business through the governor’s lockdown.
Many were able to survive because of creative outdoor dining options last summer, but this winter has been a harsh one for many. Prior to the pandemic, Murphy estimated the state had 19,000 restaurants. That number today is unknown.
“For the past year, our restaurants have fought the good fight, and we know that fight has not been easy,” said Governor Murphy.
The good fight against Murphy’s lockdowns was with both hands tied behind their backs, blindfolded, and with their feet shackled. This is New Jersey and luckily, people are tough here. It’s going to take more than a wealthy progressive Irish college boy from New England to completely knock us out.
“[The excessive Murphy lockdown] has taken a significant toll on this industry, which so many of us benefit from and enjoy.” Murphy said.
“For the past year, our restaurants have fought the good fight, and we know that fight has not been easy,” said the governor. “This legislation will provide a much-needed lifeline to small business owners, who, through no fault of their own, have been devastated by this [Extended Murphy Lockdown].”
“The [Murphy Lockdown] has been unprecedented health and economic tragedy for everyone, but it is hard to think of a sector that has been hit harder than restaurants. Restaurant owners and their employees have faced previously unimaginable challenges with tenacity and grit that has been inspiring for everyone, but they cannot overcome COVID-19 alone,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.
“With capacity limitations affecting bars and restaurants, the food and drink industry has been struggling since the start of the pandemic,” said liberal Monmouth County Democrat Vin Gopal. “Many of these smaller restaurants and bars have been fraught with the potential of closing down permanently, which would not only have an effect on the local economies but the job status of many workers within this industry.”
“Mom and pop restaurants and bars have always been keystones in our communities, creating multigenerational traditions and shaping neighborhoods. Sadly, many of these institutions have been forced to close or suffered greatly over the last year [under Murphy’s lockdown],” said Senator Lagana.
Now, coming to the rescue, Gopal and Murphy have announced new small business funding that will amount to about $4,500 per business in aid and relief.
The relief aid will be administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. To date, the NJEDA has distributed more than $250 million in aid to some 55,000 businesses across the state.
Governor Phil Murphy today signed into law A-5444, which provides $35 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid for restaurants throughout New Jersey.
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