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Here’s What Outdoor Restaurant Dining Will Look Like Under Murphy’s Law

TRENTON, NJ – We can’t figure out if this is science, like that which he reportedly ignores from his chief medical and health experts or just a dictator gone mad.  Here’s the “new normal” rolled out today by Governor Phil Murphy regarding the regulation of the restaurant industry.

“Restaurants and bars throughout New Jersey have been immensely cooperative with necessary public health measures that were placed upon them while battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” Murphy said. “Allowing outdoor dining and the expansion of alcohol-serving areas will allow restaurants and bars to begin welcoming customers back while continuing to comply with necessary social distancing guidance.”

Executive Order No. 150 allows outdoor dining at food or beverage establishments in New Jersey starting on Monday, June 15th. Establishments will be required to follow a number of COVID-19 health and safety protocols issued by the Department of Health, including a limit of eight customers per table, and requirements of at least six feet of distance between parties. In addition, for as long as indoor dining is not permitted, food or beverage establishments are required to prohibit smoking in any outdoor areas designated for the consumption of food and/or beverages.

The Order further notes that municipalities are permitted to use their existing authority to allow food or beverage establishments to expand their footprint to outdoor areas, both within their property and among municipally-governed areas, including but not limited to sidewalks, streets, or parks.

Additionally, a special ruling by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) will temporarily permit establishments with liquor licenses to expand their licensed premises into outdoor areas that are either contiguous or non-contiguous to their permanently licensed premises. Establishments may apply through the POSSE ABC Online Licensing system, and if approved will be issued a temporary permit effective on June 15th that will run until November 14, 2020.

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Nothing this governor does is without red tape.   The ABC will not take action on any application until it receives an endorsement or approval by the appropriate governing body officials, and it is the responsibility of the licensee to comply with local ordinances and site plan requirements, which means local businesses could be tied up for weeks or months before they can serve alcohol depending on the local municipal or city board’s discretion.

  • Food or beverage establishments offering service at outdoor areas pursuant to Executive Order No. 150 (2020) must adhere to the protocols listed below:

    a. Obtain all required municipal approvals and permits before offering food  and/or beverage consumption at outdoor areas;
    b. Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 should enter the food or beverage establishment;
    c. Limit seating to a maximum of eight (8) customers per table and arrange seating to achieve a minimum distance of six feet (6 ft) between parties;
    d. Rope off or otherwise mark tables, chairs and bar stools that are not to be used;
    e. Demarcate 6 feet of spacing in patron waiting areas;
    f. Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors, sidewalks, and signage on walls to ensure that customers remain at least 6 ft apart in line for the restroom or waiting for seating;
    g. Eliminate self-service food or drink options such as buffets, salad bars, and self-service drink stations;
    h. Disinfect all tables, chairs and any other shared items (menus, condiments, pens) after each use;
    i. Install physical barriers and partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands and other area where maintaining physical distance of 6 ft is difficult;
    J. Ensure 6 ft of physical distancing between workers and customers, except at the moment of payment and/or when employees are servicing the table;
    k. Require infection control practices, such as regular handwashing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal;
    I. Require frequent sanitization of high-touch areas like credit card machines, keypads, and counters to which the public and workers have access;
    m. Place conspicuous signage at entrance alerting staff and customers to the required 6 ft of physical distance; and
    n. Require all food or beverage establishments to have an inclement weather policy that, if triggered, would require the food or beverage establishment to adhere to Executive Order No. 125 (2020) and offer takeout or delivery service only.

  • Food or beverage establishments offering service at outdoor areas pursuant to Executive Order No. 150 (2020) must impose the following requirements on
    employees:

    a. Require employees to wash and/or sanitize their hands when entering the food or beverage establishment;
    b. Conduct daily health checks (e.g. temperature screening and/or symptom checking) of employees safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations;
    c. Require employees with symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) be sent home;
    d. Require all employees to wear face coverings, except where doing so would inhibit the individual’s health, and require employees to wear gloves when in contact with customers and when handing prepared foods or serving food, utensils, and other items to customers;
    e. Provide all employees with face coverings and gloves;
    f. Provide employees break time for repeated handwashing throughout the workday; and
    g. Provide sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to staff.
    3. Food or beverage establishments offering service at outside areas pursuant to

 

  • Executive Order No. 150 (2020) must institute the following policies with respect to customers:
  • a. Inform customers that safety measures such as social distancing, wearing face coverings when they are away from their table and unable to social distance or when they are inside the indoor portion of the premises of the food or beverage establishment (unless the customer has a medical reason for not doing so or is a child under two years of age), and hygiene practices must be adhered to while in the food or beverage establishment;
    b. Encourage reservations for greater control of customer traffic/volume;
    c. Require customers to provide a phone number if making a reservation to facilitate contact tracing;
    d. Recommend customers wait in their cars or away from the food or beverage establishment while waiting for a table if outdoor wait area cannot accommodate social distancing;
    e. Alert customers via calls/texts to limit touching and use of shared objects such as pagers/buzzers;
    f. Encourage the use of digital menus;
    g. Decline entry to the indoor portion of the establishment to a customer who is not wearing a face covering, unless the customer has a medical reason for not doing so or is a child under two years of age; and
    h. Provide a hand sanitizer station for customers.

Photo by Milan De Clercq on Unsplash

 

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