Trenton – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the ways in which restaurant and bars can serve alcoholic beverages, and in the interest of helping those businesses bounce back as the State’s economy begins to reopen more and more, the Senate yesterday passed legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Linda Greenstein to expand further outdoor alcohol consumption through the use of ‘open container’ areas.
“Last July, legislation to allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed in designated outdoor areas of Atlantic City was signed into law, and in the months since, we have seen the positive impact this has had on our hospitality industry,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “By designating certain ‘open container’ areas for individuals aged 21 and over to drink outdoors, our towns can ease law enforcement challenges and help local businesses continue to rebound as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic.”
The bill, S-2921, would allow municipalities to designate outdoor “open container” areas where people may consume alcoholic beverages. Under the bill, municipalities would be required to adopt an ordinance allowing the consumption of alcoholic beverages in certain areas where individuals would be permitted to carry and consume these beverages outdoors.
“Restaurants and bars, many of them locally-owned, were among the businesses hurt the most during the state shutdown during the worst months of the pandemic,” said Senator Greenstein (Mercer/Middlesex). “Through this legislation, we will enable those businesses one more outlet in which to grow their businesses and begin recover losses suffered because of COVID-19.”
The bill requires a municipality to adopt an ordinance to this effect only after a public hearing on the merits of establishing an open container area. The sale of alcoholic beverages in this area would still be subject to statutory law, as well as certain other rules, regulations and municipal ordinances.
The Senate released the bill, S2921, by a vote of 38-0.