N.J. prohibits self-serve drinks, food due to coronavirus.

Camden County has banned self-serve beverage and food at all convenience and grocery stores, directing employees at those businesses to dispense the items instead due to coronavirus concerns.

County officials issued the directive on Wednesday as four new cases of the coronavirus — three in Cherry Hill, one in Pine Hill — were announced. Across New Jersey, officials on Wednesday reported at least 427 cases of the coronavirus as the state’s death toll from the virus increased to five. Two other deaths were reported Wednesday by a Monmouth County family.

“As this situation continues to evolve, we will continue to update our proactive mitigation measures as necessary to protect the public and stop the spread of this deadly virus,” Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. said in a statement.

“In the past week, we have not seen people taking this threat seriously enough. Crowded playgrounds and shoulder-to-shoulder lines pouring coffee at Wawa and 7-Eleven are not acceptable if we are going to get through this,” Cappelli said, adding people “should be staying home as much as they can.”

The county self-serve ban includes coffee and cappuccino bars, fountain drinks and soda, roller grills, bakery cases, soup and salad bars, nacho/chili cheese machines, and condiment bars.

Retailers may continue to sell food and beverage items. However, an employee must dispense the beverage or food along with any necessary condiments directly to the customer.

Gov. Phil Murphy was asked during a radio interview Thursday morning if this might become a statewide directive. Murphy said he hadn’t heard of this before but didn’t rule it out.

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