Atlantic City’s casinos could reopen with restrictions by the Fourth of July weekend, among other loosening of the statewide coronavirus lockdown involving dining, shopping and personal care, Gov. Phil Murphy said Sunday.
** UPDATE: Murphy on Monday announced hard dates for Stage 2 of New Jersey's economic restart, including the reopening of outdoor dining, nonessential retail and salons. More information on gyms is expected to follow in the coming days. **
Murphy already has said he’ll permit daycare centers, non-contact sports and youth day camps to reopen soon.
Outdoor dining, non-essential retail shopping, “some” personal care (he didn’t say which) and houses of worship gatherings will be among the affected services that the governor has said he’ll address during Monday’s daily news briefing.
The moves will be among several in the “phase two” reopening process, Murphy said during an interview on the AC Mike Show with Mike Lopez on WOND.
“If you’re a restaurant, we’re almost certainly going to open up outdoor dining before indoor,” he said, “but that’s going to be soon, I hope.
“Nonessential retail, again, subject to certain parameters, people will have to cover their faces, et cetera -- I hope you’re going to see that soon."
The current restrictions have to recede gradually over several weeks so that merchants can best prepare, he said.
“You can’t just turn on a dime," the governor said. “If you have a restaurant or amusement, you need some time to make sure it’s staffed up, it’s cleaned up, it’s set up for the protocols.”
State officials are “trying like heck” to get the casinos open “before the Fourth of July or at least by the Fourth of July,” with as-yet unspecified restrictions, Murphy said during the radio interview.
“We’re spending a lot of time with the owners and operators as well as the workers and their representatives on casinos,” he said.
“The bad news is casinos sort of have the attributes that are hardest to deal with this virus,” the governor added. “It’s indoors, no ventilation. You’re sedentary, you’re in close proximity.
“Having said that, they’re big footprints and we think there are successful steps that can be taken to address the challenges.”
All Atlantic City casinos have been closed for gambling since March 16. Some of the hotels have been allowed to reopen for guests, however.
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