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FREEHOLD, NJ – Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone issued the following statement regarding the reopening of indoor dining in Monmouth County:

“We are now halfway through the summer and restaurants’ doors remain closed for indoor dining. Restaurants had been prepared to welcome back customers inside on July 2, but then that was postponed indefinitely.

I have been in constant communication with our restaurant owners in Monmouth County, who are truly suffering from the loss of income this summer. July has been an extremely hot month, which has been great for our beaches, but not for our restaurants.

Many restaurants in Monmouth County have made the best they can out of these horrible circumstances, creating dining spaces on sidewalks, parking lots and even on streets in some towns. I commend all of the mayors and municipalities that have worked with their businesses to help them endure.

Still, there are too many dining establishments that are not able to open for outdoor dining and they have been forced to remain closed or rely solely on take-out and delivery sales to get by. It is incredibly unfair that they continue to wait for clearance to reopen for indoor dining and are given no inkling as to when that will be.

While I understand the concern for public health, the facts show that restaurants are proving that they are capable of providing a safe environment for their customers. It seems unfair to punish our dining establishments for the irresponsible behavior of those having social gatherings in private homes, which have led to outbreaks.

Outdoor dining has been open since June 15 and there have been no outbreaks among customers at any of the establishments—not one! This clearly demonstrates that our business community understands the consequences of not adhering to the safety guidelines. They are working diligently and taking every precaution to ensure the safety of their patrons. 

As I have said many times, restaurants need to be allowed to open their doors back to their patrons before the summer is over with at least 50% capacity if we want them to survive.

As the Director of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, I am asking the Governor to please reopen restaurants for indoor dining or at least provide a timely plan to address moving towards this goal—one with clear benchmarks to be met.

Having goals and standards will help alleviate at least some of the stress and uncertainty that so many business owners are dealing with right now.

We have to give these establishments a chance before it is too late.”