NEW JERSEY - Smoking inside Atlantic City's casinos won't be allowed after all as restaurants reopened on Friday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Murphy, a Democrat, announced the about-face during a COVID-19 news conference in Trenton.
“We’ve looked closely at the science and agree with the experts who have concluded that allowing smoking is too big a risk to take," he said.
The governor had signed an executive order reopening restaurants Friday from their coronavirus pause. The order would have permitted smoking at casinos as well.
Friday was the first time indoor dining has been permitted in the state since March. Restaurateurs must limit capacity to 25% and require masks be worn by staff, and diners who aren't seated at a table.
The number of positive cases climbed by nearly 500 overnight, Murphy said, putting the total at more than 193,000. The death toll climbed by 7 to 14,195.
The rate of transmission ticked up slightly from just below 1 to 1.03. The rate measures the number of people an infected person passes the virus to and is a key metric Murphy has cited in reopening decisions. The goal is to keep it below 1, he has said.