By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
bartesaghi@montclairlocal.news

So far in Montclair, business leaders say they don’t know of any restaurants requiring coronavirus vaccination to dine.

UPDATE: Ruthie's BBQ & Pizza on Chestnut Street is requiring vaccination to dine indoors. The restaurant is not part of any of the business associations discussed in this article. 

A restaurant in Ridgewood has become one of the first in New Jersey to require customers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination for those wishing to eat inside, NorthJersey.com and others reported. The owner of it’s Greek To Me in has told media he’s uncomfortable with dining indoors because of rising cases of novel coronavirus, largely driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. 

Anne Marie Sekeres, deputy director of the Montclair Center Business Improvement District that includes hundreds of downtown businesses, said she hadn’t yet heard of any restaurants requiring vaccination. As an organization, she said, that’s not something the BID could enforce if sought to. The same goes for the Upper Montclair Business Association, that group’s president, Paul Giordano, said — though members will discuss such policies at their upcoming meetings. 

$100 to get vaccinated at Aug. 29 event

And in the South End Village Association, the story is the same, group president and Café Moso owner Zina Floyd said. The business district’s three restaurants aren’t requiring vaccination, though they are asking patrons to wear masks when they are not sitting down eating. 

“Unless the state tells us that we have to ask for vaccination proof, we will not enforce it. Not at the moment,” Floyd said. 

Floyd said the eateries have suffered the economic impact of the pandemic. They’ve undergone renovations for safety, and followed required safety protocols that have changed over the course of the pandemic — struggling to stay afloat. 

“It is mentally exhausting,” Floyd said.

Effective Aug. 16, New York City is the first in the United States to require proof of at least one vaccination shot for activities including indoor dining, use of gyms and attendance at performances.

So far, Gov. Phil Murphy hasn’t followed suit with any similar announcement. He’s urged New Jersey residents to wear masks when in indoor public spaces, but stopped short of instituting a new mask mandate after lifting the state’s previous mandate in May.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends indoor masking for any area considered to have a “substantial” or higher degree of coronavirus spread. In recent weeks, that’s included all New Jersey counties. As of Saturday, New Jersey was one of several counties rated to have a “high” level of coronavirus spread, the most severe classification on the CDC’s scale. 

Also as of Saturday, 71% of Montclair residents of any age were vaccinated, according to state data; 85% of those 18 and over were vaccinated. Statewide, 59% of people of any age were fully vaccinated. 

Montclair Local coronavirus tracker

There are several opportunities to be vaccinated in and near Montclair:

  • The township runs regular vaccine clinics at the Montclair Health Department’s offices in the municipal building. Walk-ins are welcome. The next is Aug. 17, from 9 a.m. to noon. The Health Department’s vaccination clinics are open to anyone 18 and over who resides or works in Montclair. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available. Those who wish to receive the Moderna vaccine will be given an appointment on the day of the first vaccine for their second vaccination about 30 days after their first dose. 
  • Essex County continues to provide Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccinations at the former Kmart building in West Orange, located at 235 Prospect Ave., every day but Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It also provides vaccinations at Essex County College, at 177 West Market Street in Newark, at the same times. Registrations are available at EssexCovid.org, but walk-ins are welcome. Both locations also now offer third doses of Moderna and Pfizer for those with weakened immune systems, but by appointment only. The county also releases a schedule of upcoming mobile and pop-up vaccination events at EssexCovid.org each week; third doses are not available at those events.
  • A mobile clinic will be held at the Wally Choice Center at Glenfield Park on Aug. 29. All three vaccines will be available. The first 50 people who register and who follow through with vaccination will receive a $100 incentive, made possible via an anonymous donation to the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence’s vaccine outreach program. Walk-ins are welcome, but the MFEE is encouraging advance registrations that can be done in English at bit.ly/Aug29MFEECovidVaccination or Spanish at bit.ly/29deagosto_VacunasContraCovid.
  • Montclair State University will hold free vaccination clinics throughout the month of August, open to the general public. All three vaccines will be available. Clinics will be held on Aug. 16, 23 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of the Panzer Athletic Center on campus. Walk-ins are permitted, but registration at Montclair.edu is preferred.
  • All three vaccines are available at local CVS pharmacies. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments can be scheduled at CVS.com.
  • Moderna vaccines are available at Mountainside hospital via walk-in every Wednesday from noon to 5 p.m. The hospital also takes registration for appointments at 973-873-7787. 

The Pfizer vaccine is available to those ages 12 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available to those 18 and older.