New Jersey Pauses Indoor Dining As Malls Reopen For Indoor Shopping With Strict Guidelines

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) – Indoor shopping malls in New Jersey reopened Monday with strict restrictions following the COVID-19 shutdown. Shoppers and workers have to wear face masks and shops are limited to 50% capacity.

“Malls are part of New Jersey culture and lure,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a tweet. “We want these businesses to get back up and running responsibly and safely.”

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Eyewitness News was at the Deptford Mall at 11 a.m. Monday when the doors finally opened after about three months being closed to shoppers and owners.

One woman we spoke with who was waiting in line to get into a store said she was surprised how many people actually came out.

We’ve seen excited shoppers filing into the parking lot through our Drone Watch 3.

Once inside, a mall spokesperson says strict social distancing guidelines are in place.

Not every store is open and some of the larger stores are limiting the number of customers they have at a time.

Store owners, like at Flexy Custom Apparel, say they’ve been working hard to ensure their shoppers can feel safe and secure while browsing the aisles.

“Kind of trying to have someone on the floor to help everyone so they don’t have to be as hands-on, touching everything so quick, explain stuff to them and make things smoother. Everyone’s tired of sitting in the house, they’re ready to come out so I think everyone will do their part to make it go smooth,” Flexy owner Rob Harris said.

“Today it’s been hectic wearing the mask for everyone but everyone has been happy that we’re back,” said Jillian Gray from Ginny’s Cookies and Cream.

At the Cherry Hill Mall, shoppers will only be allowed to use two entrances at the mall.

There are also hand sanitizing stations throughout the building and social distancing will be enforced on the escalators, in the elevators and in the restrooms.

Meanwhile, Gov. Murphy announced Monday on Twitter that indoor dining will not resume Thursday, as planned.

“We’re also moved to pause indoor dining because of what we’ve seen in some establishments across the state. Overcrowding. A complete disregard for social distancing. Very few, IF ANY, face coverings. The scenes we see in our newspapers and on social media CANNOT CONTINUE,” he tweeted.

New Jersey has had 171,272 positive cases of coronavirus and 13,138 deaths due to COVID-19.

CBS3’s Dan Koob contributed to this report.