Trenton – Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill sponsored by Senator Paul Sarlo, Senator Nellie Pou, Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez to help restaurants suffering from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The law, S-3340, will expand opportunities for restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to operate outdoors until at least November 30, 2022, regardless of when full capacity indoor dining is permitted to resume.
“This is timely, important and desperately needed by the restaurants, bars, distilleries and breweries that are struggling to survive the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis,” said Senator Sarlo (D-Bergen/Passaic), who chairs the Senate Budget Committee. “It’s about more than the Super Bowl. The months ahead will be pivotal for their ability to stay in business, keep their employees on the payroll and contribute to the economic viability of the communities they serve. This will allow for a measured expansion that will maintain the health and safety of workers and customers and allow the businesses to plan ahead with more certainty.”
Senator Pou stressed the importance of establishing a standardized application process and operating standards for restaurants to utilize outdoor spaces.
“This law will help our small and local businesses in the food and beverage industry who are part of the life-blood of our communities, and who have suffered such a detrimental impact during the restricted bar and restaurant hours brought on by the pandemic,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic). “As we look towards the spring, we must do all we can to help these businesses survive and thrive in the months ahead.”
“This common-sense measure will bring immediate help to our restaurants, bars and breweries by streamlining application procedures in order to serve more patrons outdoors,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “After suffering so much loss in the past year due to the pandemic, this will greatly enhance prospects for these businesses, especially as we approach the coming season on the Jersey Shore.”
“Our restaurants, bars and breweries have been suffering an inordinate amount since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It is clear that outdoor dining has been a huge asset for these businesses, and this will ensure they can rely on it in the year ahead, offering greater stability going forward.”
The law will update regulations to allow restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to utilize covered and uncovered patios and decks, yards, walkways, parking lots and public sidewalks for both food and alcohol consumption. Business operators would have to file an application with the municipal zoning officer which cannot be rejected if the business is compliant with the provisions of the bill as well as local ordinances related to health, safety, fire, and zoning.