As part of Governor Murphy’s order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, all restaurants were required to close the dine-in section of their businesses as of March 16 at 8 p.m. However, Jefferson restaurants want you to know they are still open for business and need your support.
Confusing Messaging from State
While performing research, The Jefferson Chronicle found that many local businesses were confused about the permitted hours of operation. A telephone call to Mayor Eric Wilsusen confirmed that all restaurants are allowed to stay open for their regular hours if they are providing food. Restaurants do not need to close by 8 p.m.
Governor Murphy discouraged non-essential travel between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. during the same press briefing, which led to the confusion. Wilsusen confirmed that this travel advisory is not mandatory and does not apply to the pick-up or delivery of food. Some restaurants will offer packaged goods, depending on their liquor licenses. Businesses are encouraged to call the town clerk with any questions.
“These measures were necessary to protect our elderly population and to avoid over-taxing our healthcare system,” Wilsusen said.
Mixed Opinions from Patrons
While it was clear from the crowds that Jeffersonians do not do social distancing well, their reasons differ as to why. Some feel that the virus is overhyped by the media; some think they are not at risk. Still others feel that social distancing is good in concept but difficult in execution. Many were greeting each other elbowing bumping, but equally as many were still hugging one another despite recent advice against close contact. A few tears were shed as they left their friends and favorite watering holes.
Business owners are concerned for their customers but also for their livelihood and that of their staff. Many rely on the profit margins that serving alcohol provides. Some have already laid off wait staff.
Others, like Jefferson Market’s Mihir Patel (a.k.a Junior), want to encourage everyone to use local markets instead of large chains. Many times, these smaller markets may have items in stock that the large stores do not. (Ding Dong Deli was rumored to have the elusive rolls of toilet paper, according to some recent Facebook posts.)
While most restaurants are remaining open, The Chronicle found that many are unsure how this limited service will work and may need to adjust hours accordingly or may end up closing completely while this mandate is in effect.
Nick Seretis, co-owner of Jefferson Diner and J Towne Tavern, told The Jefferson Chronicle, “Shoprite and Costco aren’t going anywhere. Please support your local business.” Each owner conveyed well wishes that their customers keep safe and that we will get through this together.