Phil Murphy Extends Outdoor Dining Two More Years

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – In Downtown Toms River, each weekend a portion of Washington Street is shut down and it becomes one of the more popular downtown dining destinations at the Jersey Shore. That experience was set to end this year after Governor Phil Murphy’s pandemic-era outdoor dining allowance was set to expire in November.

The same scene plays out across downtown areas statewide and along the Jersey Shore, particularly in Asbury Park and Red Bank where streets are closed to allow for a great outdoor dining experience similar to those you would find in Europe.

On Wednesday, Murphy renewed that order to allow for outdoor dining to continue for another two years. It’s perhaps the only good thing that came out of the New Jersey governor’s entire pandemic policy that saw thousands of small businesses and restaurants go out of business.

On Wednesday, Governor Phil Murphy today signed a bill (S-2364 []) to extend expanded permissions for restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to use fixtures and equipment enabling them to serve patrons outdoors in private areas, on sidewalks, and in other municipally-designated outdoor areas.

The permissions were set to expire November 30, 2022 but will now be extended by two additional years to support the food and beverage industry, patrons, and local communities by facilitating opportunities to serve customers outdoors.

“My Administration worked in collaboration with the Legislature to support the restaurant industry and their customers by expanding outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue that support today by extending these expanded permissions for food and beverage establishments throughout our state,” said Governor Murphy. “Supporting the success of our small businesses ultimately means supporting the success of our communities. Continuing this successful practice will not only benefit small business owners, but also the many patrons who have come to enjoy the atmosphere and opportunities outdoor dining offers.”

Fellow Democrat Bill Pascrell, Jr. said Murphy’s pandemic response hit the state hard.

“The pandemic hit our state hard. To keep our communities safe and our economy running, our Democratic Congress passed the American Rescue Plan to deliver needed relief. That plan provided over $10 billion for New Jersey which helped establishments like Vesta Wood-Fired in East Rutherford stay afloat,” said U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. “I commend Governor Murphy for taking action today to provide additional relief for New Jersey restaurants. In Congress, I helped pass the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard-Hit Industries Act to provide an additional $55 billion for small businesses impacted by COVID. I’ll continue to push the Senate to pass our bill, but in the meantime it is encouraging to know our small businesses have a staunch supporter like Governor Murphy here in the Garden State.”

According to the order:

The Governor authorized municipalities to enable the expansion of outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect residents while supporting food and beverage establishments. Many business owners have continued to offer outdoor dining since beginning to offer outdoor seating during the summer of 2020.

Today’s legislation will authorize continued use of fixtures such as tents, canopies, umbrellas, tables, and chairs for outdoor dining until November 30, 2024, extending a law that was signed by the Governor in February of 2021. This represents another part of the Governor’s ongoing support for small businesses, which includes the additional $50 million investment in the FY2023 budget for the Main Street Recovery Fund that has assisted many restaurants and other small businesses.

The Governor signed the bill at Vesta Wood-Fired, a local restaurant that received a grant from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority as part of our state’s small business emergency assistance program to support New Jersey businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.