ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy received his first COVID-19 vaccination on Friday, shortly after signing legislation providing $35 million in federal pandemic funds to restaurants, bars and other related businesses.
The Democratic governor got his shot at a megasite in Atlantic City, where a push is also under way to vaccinate casino workers.
He threw his fist in the air and shouted “Boom!” upon getting the first doze of the Pfizer vaccine.
First Lady Tammy Murphy also got her first dose of the vaccine on Friday.
Earlier in the day, Murphy signed a bill allocating aid to restaurants, bars, breweries, brewpubs and wineries. He signed the legislation during a ceremony at Bourre Cajun BBQ Cuisine near the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
“Our restaurants, bars, wineries and breweries are a crucial part of our state and our economy,” Murphy said. “These are among the places that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. We're not out of this yet. Margins for our restaurants remain razor-thin.”
The funds are grants and do not have to be repaid by recipients, the governor said.
New Jersey's restaurants can operate at 50% capacity for indoor dining under current virus regulations.
Restaurant industry officials said many have closed during the pandemic and will never reopen.
“This is a promising and much-appreciated start,” said Dana Lancelotti, president and CEO of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association.
Murphy said the new funding adds to $35 million in aid previously allocated to the restaurant industry in October.
The 63-year-old Murphy had said he would wait to get the vaccine until he qualified. On Monday of this week, people 55 and older were cleared to get the vaccine in New Jersey. The day the first positive case of the coronavirus in New Jersey was announced last year was also the day Murphy came out of a successful surgery to remove what his office said was likely a cancerous tumor on his kidney.
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