N.J. businesses prepare for 50% indoor capacity Friday

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- On Friday, beginning at 6:00 a.m., New Jersey businesses, including restaurants, personal care, gyms, and casinos, can go up to 50% indoor capacity.

Some say it's a step in the right direction, while others say it doesn't change much.

"Your mom and pop, small shops like us, it's not going to make a difference at all," said John Exabaktilos, owner of Ducktown Tavern in Atlantic City.

He says because tables still need to be spaced six feet apart or separated by barriers, the bump in capacity numbers doesn't do much for them.

"The 10:00 p.m. curfew being lifted helps us for the most part," said Exabaktilos. "Going forward, until you lower the social distance six-foot rule, it's the same as always."

In Ventnor, the owner of Salon Pasarella says this should allow her to bring back one more stylist for appointments while keeping things spaced out.

"We're going to feel it out, and then we'll decide what we'll do in the future, especially in the summer," said owner Maria Ruiz.

Casinos will also go to 50% on Friday, according to officials.

Steve Callender, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, says because of social distancing, the casino floors will probably look very much the same, but it will make a small difference.

"It doesn't have the impact that having large gatherings and meeting space would do for our convention business, but we will be able to get more people in our restaurants," said Callender.

Several business owners told Action News that the more people vaccinated, the better business will be.

Inside the Atlantic City Convention Center on Thursday, a milestone vaccine was administered.

The 100-thousandth dose was given to James Plummer, 90, of Atlantic County.

"I think about the millions of Americans who have taken it," said Plummer. "I know it's something we have to do. So I feel fine."

He's a deacon at his Pleasantville church and says he can't wait to return.

"I do miss going to church on Sundays like I used to do. But the Lord has blessed me, and I'm so grateful."

Gathering limits also go up Friday in New Jersey, with general indoor gatherings going from 10 to 25 people and outdoor gatherings going from 25 to 50 people.

This limit does not include religious or political gatherings, officials say.
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