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New Jersey Restaurant Owners Concerned About Staff As State Putting In New COVID-19 Restrictions For Restaurants

CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) -- New Jersey is putting new restrictions in place for restaurants this week because of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the Garden State. Restaurants and bars will not be allowed to have indoor dining from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.

The sign outside the Black Horse Diner in Camden County says it's open 24 hours, but over the last few months, it's been closing around midnight or 1 a.m. Now, starting Thursday, the hours for indoor dining here change again.

"It's tough," said diner owner Ray Kucuk.

New restrictions say indoor dining at restaurants across the Garden State will stop serving patrons from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. starting Thursday.

"We don't know what's going to happen with the shorter hours," Kucuk said.

As Kucuk worries about his waiters and waitresses making enough tips to support themselves, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday the changes are necessary because of an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Murphy also says food and drink service at casinos will also be restricted during the same hours: 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. On top of those restrictions, bars will see even more changes.

"As we have found evidence suggesting an increase of spread to patrons seated at bars and among bartenders, effective Thursday, all bar side seating will be prohibited at all hours," Murphy said.

"As far as bartenders go, forget it. By them saying that you can't have anybody sitting at your bar, how are they supposed to make any money at all?" asked Theresa Upperman with Angelo's Fairmount Tavern.

Angelo's in Atlantic City was able to stay afloat thanks to the influx of customers visiting the shore throughout the summer, and they're hoping to keep their doors open as there seems to be no end in sight.

"We're doing all that we're supposed to do and we're hoping for the best," Upperman said.

Outdoor dining can continue after 10 p.m.

"It's been difficult already with 26% occupancy it's very difficult. We can't make money. Our job now is to lose less money, and to survive until next year," said Barry Gutin, co-owner of Cuba Libre and Rum Bar.

Gutin says they've been taking all of the necessary precautions to keep employees and guests safe, beyond just sanitizing tables and chairs.

"Upon arrival everybody gets their temperature checked, they get a health screening, they're asked to sanitize their hands," Gutin said.

Some people welcome the new restrictions.

"I'm all for it. Whatever to make us safer and try to get rid of this coronavirus or at least get a hold of it because it's getting a hold of us," Alona Williams said.

"I think this will help with the restrictions," Brianna Robinson said.

But the owner of the Black Horse Diner has a different message for Murphy.

"Open up, that's it," Kucuk said.

Outdoor dining and delivery after 10 p.m. are both still OK. Meantime, indoor youth sports teams will not be allowed to go out of state for games and tournaments.

CBS3's Matt Petrillo and Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.


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