RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey’s Stage 2 reopening started Monday.
Outdoor dining is now allowed at restaurants, non-essential retail stores are open, and child care services can resume.
As CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported, the move could not have come soon enough for many businesses.
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On Monday, customers stepped inside Apricot Lane, a women’s boutique in downtown Ridgewood, for the first time in three months.
Co-owner Lucille Coyle said she’s excited to open and hopes people remember to shop local.
“We rely on our local customers. Without them, we can’t be here,” said Coyle.
Up the street, Raymond’s is able to seat about 34 people out on the sidewalk.
“We’ve had our regular customers, who’ve been waiting, and they came back right away,” said John Gergeos. “The first woman was here at 8 a.m.”
Workers at Raymond’s wear gloves and masks, while the restaurant is sanitized regularly.
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In Jersey City, people took full advantage of the first night of outdoor dining. CBS2’s Cory James caught up with them eating in the street, on the sidewalk, and on patios.
“We ordered margarita pizza, the pepperoni pizza, mozzarella with cheese placas, pigged out,” one patron said with a laugh.
The assistant general manager of Porta told James the establishment got about 100 reservations. To prepare for guests the staff made sure group seating was at least six feet apart, and marked the tables that were off-limits.
Over in Hoboken, it was the same story.
The business was exactly what one bartender needed. She sad the pandemic has been hard.
“Challenging financially, emotionally, socially, all of it,” she said.
But, Gov. Phil Murphy said the numbers are trending down.
“We are able to move into Stage 2 today because the data we have been tracking…tell us that we are in a safer position to do so,” said Murphy.
The governor said the state is not imposing restrictions on restaurants’ operating hours, despite what some may think.
However, he reiterated other limits are in place on all gatherings.
“We are being very strict in requiring face coverings, whether it’s in a retail shop or house of worship or, next week, when our personal care businesses reopen,” he said.
Some customers said seeing small businesses reopen is a morale booster.
“It’s just so nice to see my town come alive again,” said Mike Sissto of Ridgewood. “It’s so sad when there’s no cars in the street.”
Outdoor space is limited for many restaurants, so some cities are making adjustments.
Ridgewood will close some streets every Saturday and Sunday night to clear space for restaurants to set up tables.
The Hoboken City Council approved expanding capacity for outdoor dining as part of the city’s COVID-19 small business recovery strategy.
Restaurants that already have enough space are getting creative.
The owners of Biggie’s on Route 17 in Carlstadt erected a tent in the parking lot, where about 36 people can be seated.
“We are excited to be back. The staff is excited. We’re here to serve you guys,” said Steve Ranuro.
Gov. Murphy said the risk of spreading coronavirus remains high with indoor dining, gyms, and office buildings.
“We will get there,” Murphy said of the notion of allowing those businesses to reopen. “We will get there based on our data and health metrics.”