Angry Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday once again rejected unsubstantiated allegations on social media that he dined at a New Jersey restaurant last weekend despite his coronavirus restrictions, saying that anyone who suggests that is not saying the truth.
“This is ridiculous,” Murphy said during a television appearance on News 12. “The people who said I ate inside are liars.”
“I ate outside with my wife and daughter and her friend in the pouring rain,” he added during his presentation program “Ask Governor Murphy.” “And we went out to pay the waitress. … We were in a bar with all four sides open, under an overhang, paying the bill and taking a couple of photos with people on the way out. We were completely masked. “
“We ate outdoors. Let’s talk about things that matter, “concluded the governor.
Murphy was then asked if he was sending the wrong message by surrounding customers while posing for photos at the restaurant despite continually asking New Jersey residents to practice social distancing during the pandemic.
“We are doing our best,” Murphy replied exasperated. “I have nothing more to add.”
Murphy has allowed New Jersey restaurants to offer cookouts since June 15 as the state continues to slowly reopen after months of restrictions to fight COVID-19. Indoor dining room is still prohibited.
Governor and First Lady Tammy Murphy shared on social media Saturday night that they had dinner at Martell’s Water Edge in Bayville, despite a thunderstorm.
Meanwhile, photos were circulating on social media showing Murphies and other customers seeking shelter from the rain in an area with a fixed roof and mounted televisions that is part of an outdoor tiki bar at Martell’s. Numerous photos also showed the governor wearing a mask.
A few social media users and a Monmouth County news site claimed that Murphys ate indoors, though no photos showed the couple dining inside. Republican State Senator Declan O’Scanlon, a frequent critic of the Democratic governor’s restrictions, shared one of the tweets and added: “Wow. The hypocrisy is amazing. “
O’Scanlon, a Monmouth Republican, later tweeted: “Then I heard from the Governor’s office. They told me that he, and those other clients, were dining outside and only took refuge inside during a downpour. If that’s true, then it’s fair. Maybe some other clients can shed light.
Murphy addressed the matter at his daily coronavirus briefing Monday in Trenton, insisting that he had not eaten inside a restaurant or bar.
“If someone out there implies ‘Hey, even he’s doing this, which means you could do it’, if a person gets infected as a result of that or if a person goes to the hospital as a result of that or, God forbid … someone’s life is lost as a result of that, that’s blood on their hands, man, “he added. “I don’t know how you can live with yourself.”
During his appearance on Tuesday in News 12, Murphy was asked to clear up any confusion about where he ate.
“Outdoors,” replied the Governor.
That led to his brief answer about people who lie, which is one of the sharpest answers that Murphy, often reserved, has given to a question in his two and a half years as governor.
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Murphy had announced last week that it would allow indoor dining, with a capacity of 25%, starting Tuesday. But he issued an executive order on Monday canceling those arena plans saying meals inside would be postponed indefinitely.
The governor said he based his decision largely on evidence that the reopening of indoor dining has led to an increase in COVID-19 cases in other states. He also said authorities were concerned about crowded crowds not practicing social distancing in some New Jersey bars and restaurants in the first two weeks of al fresco dining.
Some restaurants and other critics have said that Murphy should simply punish those who violate his orders instead of issuing a general order that affects the entire industry.
He said Tuesday that he has “nothing but sympathy” for restaurants that spent money and made changes to their dining rooms to prepare for the weekend.
But Murphy said that while “silly behavior” in some outdoor dining areas didn’t help, the biggest reason for the change is that the virus remains “more deadly” indoors than outdoors.
“We are not ready for that,” said the governor. “This is not punishing the industry. This is saving lives. I’m not glad.
Murphy also said he feels “zero pressure” to allow eating indoors because Connecticut has.
“We are making decisions based on what we are seeing,” he said.
New Jersey, a densely populated state of 9 million residents, has reported at least 13,181 confirmed deaths and 1,854 probable deaths attributed to COVID-19, with 171,667 total cases, in the nearly four months since its first case was announced on 4 of March. The state ranks second in deaths and third in cases among U.S. states.
State officials announced 47 new deaths and 461 new positive tests on Tuesday.
The number of deaths and new cases per day in the state, as well as total hospitalizations, have decreased significantly since their peak in April.
Another key statistic, the state’s retransmission rate, has remained below the key number 1 for weeks, meaning each infected resident transmits it to less than one person. But Murphy warned that it has increased in the past few days and is currently at 0.88, a slight increase since Monday.
The state is also asking travelers from other states to quarantine for 14 days if they visit New Jersey or return home after spending time in states considered coronavirus hot spots. The list, which Murphy said can change regularly, increased to 16 states on Monday night.
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Brent johnson can be reached in [email protected].