Pennacchio’s Attempt to Open Restaurants for Indoor Dining Flagged by Senate Democrats

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H2Ocean Restaurant & Raw Bar, 41 Ridgedale Avenue, Cedar Knolls

MORRIS COUNTY — Frustrated by the Governor’s refusal to loosen restrictions on restaurants for indoor dining, Senator Joe Pennacchio proposed legislative action to address the stalemate that is suffocating the state economy.

Pennacchio implored the Senate to adopt an amendment to S-766 to allow restaurants to follow appropriate precautions and open their doors to indoor customers immediately.

The Democrat majority instantly moved to block the effort, and as a result, restaurants remain off-limits indefinitely, subject to the Governor’s impulse.

“Arbitrary rules are destroying an entire industry. This was an opportunity for the Legislature to become directly involved in pandemic public policy but the Democrats passed,” said a disappointed Senator Pennacchio. “They chose politics over the best interests of New Jersey’s crucial hospitality industry and the hundreds of thousands of residents who depend on it for their livelihoods.

“I appreciate my Republican colleagues who backed the amendment, but it was disappointing we didn’t have bipartisan support, and the measure was voted down. This is something our state desperately needs right now,” Pennacchio said.

The floor amendments proposed by Pennacchio would permit indoor dining as long as establishments followed basic health precautions, including a 25 percent seating capacity, maintaining recommended social distancing guidelines, and restrictions on customers tested with a fever of 100.3 or higher.

“We would require common sense,” said Pennacchio. “Social distancing, wear a mask when you enter the establishment, monitor temperatures before patrons are seated, no congregating around the bar. These are workable solutions that would enable the state to move into the next critical phase of economic recovery.

“Every weekend that passes without indoor dining, the number of established, successful restaurants in danger of going out of business forever increases. This can’t go on.”