Asbury Park, N.J., is Murphy country.

In 2017, the Jersey Shore city, known for its urban flare and seaside charm, voted overwhelmingly in favor of Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a first-term Democrat who lives about 15 miles away.

Mr. Murphy held his election night victory party at Asbury Park’s huge brick Convention Hall. And his fellow Democrats control the diverse, mile-square city of 15,500 residents.

But that did not stop an insurrection linked to the coronavirus pandemic from brewing on the boardwalk.

Asbury Park’s City Council voted unanimously this week to let restaurants allow limited-capacity indoor dining starting on Monday, flouting Mr. Murphy’s reopening orders. The governor’s phased-in plan permits only outdoor dining to begin.

On Friday, Mr. Murphy countered, saying the state had taken the unusual step of suing the city to block it from letting its 80 restaurants fully reopen after efforts to “amicably resolve the issue” broke down.

“We have one set of rules,” Mr. Murphy said in announcing the lawsuit.

“There’s no question this virus is more lethal inside than outside,” he added. “There’s a method to what we’re doing here, folks.”

Hours later, after a judge granted the state’s request, Asbury Park officials reversed course, telling restaurant owners that they could be fined or lose their liquor licenses if they opened for indoor dining on Monday.

But city officials also said in a statement that they hoped the showdown with the governor would force him to quickly set a date for restaurants to reopen fully.

New Jersey has the second-highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the United States and is one of the last states in the country to ease restrictions on indoor dining as it moves to gradually lift a lockdown that was meant to slow the spread of the virus.

Last month, protesters in Texas and Michigan brandished guns while demanding a speedier reopening. A gym in South Jersey briefly reopened to publicly protest the state’s restrictions, as did a movie theater in Atlantic County that closed last week after facing what it called an “onslaught of citations.”

On Thursday, the mayor of Wayne, N.J., a Republican, set up a showdown with state officials by saying the township’s high schools would hold outdoor graduation ceremonies next week, three weeks ahead of a schedule that Mr. Murphy set for such ceremonies. The mayor, Christopher P. Vergano, did not return calls seeking comment.

Amy Quinn, Asbury Park’s deputy mayor, said the vote on Wednesday to allow indoor dining came after relentless complaints from small business owners.

She said that the city could no longer ignore the economic hardship that independently operated restaurants were facing, particularly when other retail establishments had been granted permission to begin to reopen.

“These aren’t big chains,” Ms. Quinn said. “They’ve poured their life savings into these restaurants. It’s heartbreaking. We felt like we needed to take a stand.”

Under Mr. Murphy’s plan, retail shops, nail and hair salons, tattoo parlors and houses of worship are scheduled to reopen soon at limited capacity. Schools may hold in-person summer school classes, and public pools can allow swimming.

But the governor has remained insistent that it was “too soon” for indoor dining, drawing a distinction between sedentary indoor activities and outdoor events.

For restaurant owners, the long weeks without customers have exacted a staggering financial toll.

“We’re crippled as an industry,” said Marilyn Schlossbach, the owner of Langosta Lounge, a restaurant and bar on the Asbury Park boardwalk. “Especially in these shore towns where every day is huge dollars that we’re losing.”

There are also logistical problems inherent in opening only outside seating, said Ms. Schlossbach, the chairwoman of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association. If, for example, it started to rain or get windy, she said, diners would have nowhere to go.

The rigid cleanliness protocols already required at restaurants make them uniquely prepared to handle the added threat of the virus, she said.

  • Updated June 12, 2020

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      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

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      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

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      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

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      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

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      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

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      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


“If I can go to the supermarket and Home Depot and there’s 100 people in there shopping and walking all over the place, why can’t I go to a restaurant?” said Ms. Schlossbach, who owns two other Jersey Shore restaurants, which she said were dependent on the 12-week summer season for survival.

“If you don’t feel safe,” she said, “don’t go out to eat.”

A poll conducted last month by Rutgers’ Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling found that two-thirds of New Jersey’s residents were satisfied with the pace of reopening.

Attitudes along the Jersey Shore, where voters tend to be more conservative, were slightly less favorable, said Ashley Koning, the director of the polling institute.

“I don’t think that it’s a surprise here that we see this tug of war,” she said. “Obviously this is their prime season.”

Amy Russo, the owner of Toast, a breakfast and brunch restaurant in downtown Asbury Park, called the state’s reopening plan “arbitrary” and “illogical.”

“I respect the disease,” she said. “It’s real. I’m not discounting it. But what he is allowing to open versus what he’s not allowing to open makes no sense.”

John Farmer Jr., the director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University and a former New Jersey attorney general, noted the continuing threat posed by the virus, which has killed at least 12,489 state residents.

He said the governor had no choice but to take legal action to quell Asbury Park’s open rebellion.

“If they allowed that to go forward without an injunction,” Mr. Farmer said, “it would absolutely open the floodgates and show he’s not serious about these orders.”

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