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Tighter COVID-19 Restrictions Go Into Effect Across New Jersey As Cases Continue To Climb

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) --The Tri-State Area is clamping down as coronavirus cases continue to spread.

New Jersey reports more than 10,000 new COVID cases since Monday and 3,500 Thursday alone.

New restrictions are prompting new worry in New Jersey.

"It's definitely going to be tough for the restaurant community," said James Du, owner of Akai Lounge.

Du says most of his business comes at lunch and dinner, but not everyone is as lucky.

"On the weekend, you say you can't open past 10 o'clock. I just don't see how the restaurants or the bars that open late would be able to survive that," Du said.

After a rainy Thursday, empty tables and soaking wet seats are not things restaurant owners like Anthony Pino can afford right with the new restrictions.

"You look at this, and you're like, OK, so now you're down 65, 70%, your sales for today," Pino told CBS2's Jessica Layton. "It hurts. It's gonna hurt."


Starting Thursday, across the state, bars and restaurants must close their indoor service by 10 p.m. Outdoor dining and takeout can continue after that.

Indoor bar seating is banned at all hours. To make up for that, the state has eased some restrictions to accommodate more seating.

Casinos must also stop serving food and drinks between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. with exceptions for room service and takeout.

In addition, all interstate indoor sports up to and including high school level are prohibited.

Watch Andrea Grymes' report --

While some believe this goes too far, Sammy Sujak, owner of Giovanni's Bicycle Club restaurant and bar in Englewood, says it's a good idea.

"Whatever it takes to keep people nice and safe, to protect the public," Sujak said.

"COVID doesn't come out until 10:01, so we have to close everything at 10 o'clock, right? I get it, but I don't get it," Fort Lee resident Leah Meiterman said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Why is 10 p.m. sort of the magic number? Why 10 p.m.?" CBS2's Andrea Grymes asked Gov. Phil Murphy.

"I think 10 p.m. strikes the balance of still allowing indoor dining to have some amount of life," the governor said. "It's restaurants, not in name but in spirit, morph into clubs."

Murphy said the new rules hit the areas where they're seeing the most problems. The latest statewide positivity rate is 12.02%.

In Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka enacted rules even stricter than the state's, including a 9 p.m. weeknight curfew.

"If I don't get elected tomorrow because of what we do in Newark, then I don't care. My family lives here. My friends live here. Six police officers have died," Baraka said.

Newark police broke up a party at a home on Camden Street that was going strong until 1 a.m. this week.

The state says private gatherings are also problems.

"Recent gatherings, many of which were Halloween parties, have led to nearly 70 cases in Union, Gloucester, Somerset, Essex and Cumberland counties," New Jersey health commissioner Judy Persichilli said.

RELATED STORY: Mayor Baraka Says Coronavirus Positivity Rate In Newark Is Even Worse In Specific Areas

As for classrooms, the governor says contrary to what people may believe, in-school transmission has remained low. There have been 192 cases since Aug. 1 in more than 3,000 school buildings.

"There's a gap between the in-school reality and the community reality. It's not necessarily correlated," Murphy said.

He says there are currently no plans to close schools.

Murphy is also fed up by the lack of mask wearing with a serious warning for those who say face covers aren't comfortable.

"You know what's really uncomfortable and annoying? When you die," Murphy said at his Thursday press conference.

The governor says there are reasons to be hopeful. Although one death is one too many, fewer people are dying from this disease now than during the height of the pandemic. The fatality rate is around 2%.


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