Murphy expands outdoor alcohol consumption in A.C.

    Gov. Phil Murphy is trying to give Atlantic City a boost.

    While indoor dining may still be a few weeks away, on Friday he signed legislation allowing visitors to carry and consume alcoholic beverages on certain outdoor properties in Atlantic City’s Tourism District.

    The bill defines an “open container area” as portions of the beach, boardwalk and other areas within the Atlantic City Tourism District, as determined by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, in which pedestrians are permitted to carry and consume open containers of alcoholic beverages.

    “Despite the economic hardship that this pandemic has levied on our casino and hospitality industries, the Atlantic City community has once again proven its resiliency and readiness for a strong future,” Murphy said. “By permanently allowing outdoor consumption of alcoholic beverages in certain areas of the Tourism District, we can extend short-term support to small businesses who need it, and further strengthen the resurgence of Atlantic City as the East Coast’s premier resort destination.”

    Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who also serves as commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, said the move is a good-faith effort.

    “Atlantic City has effectively demonstrated over the past several months that business establishments in the Tourism District and on the boardwalk are capable of responsibly serving open containers to adults,” she said. “As we face unprecedented economic challenges in Atlantic City due to the pandemic, this easement will help businesses recover from the economic recession and continue to thrive once life returns to normal.”

    CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty said the legislation will help.

    “Visitors coming to Atlantic City expect all the amenities of a world-class destination,” he said. “This will also allow the Atlantic City hospitality industry, which has been severely impacted by COVID-19, to more effectively compete.”

    Other notes from the weekend:

    Health metrics

    New Jersey had two more great days of numbers this weekend.

    On Sunday, Murphy announced there were only 306 new positive cases (Florida and Texas both had more than 3,000), bringing the state’s cumulative total to 191,611. On Saturday, the state reported 388 new cases.

    The rate of transmission continues to hold steady at 0.87.

    And, while there were six hospital deaths in 24-hour period leading up to 10 p.m. Saturday night, the state only has four additional confirmed COVID-19 fatalities, bringing that total to 14,157.

    While New Jersey is falling in the number of overall cases (Arizona recently became the seventh state with more than 200,000 cases), the state is still second in deaths (to New York) and highest in the country in deaths per 100,000 people (179).

    Another impressive number: According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, there are only 95 people in intensive or critical care. More impressive: There are just 28 people on ventilators, which means less than 1% of all ventilators are in use.

    The final word

    Murphy, in a tweet on the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman:

    From Thurgood Marshall and James Brown to transforming into superheroes like the Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman was a one-of-a-kind talent whose ability to inspire both on and off screen will last for generations. Rest In Power.”