Outdoor Dining in New Jersey During the COVID-19 Emergency

By Nick Talvacchia, Esq., Jennifer Barr, Esq., and Trevor Waldron*

On June 3, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 150 allowing restaurants to conduct food and beverage service at outdoor areas. This order is effective at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, June 15, 2020.

The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control will be issuing temporary permits allowing business owners to extend alcohol service to outdoor dining areas.

Each establishment must satisfy the standards issued by the Department of Health which include the following:

  • Seating: up to 8 customers per table;
  • Tables: 6 feet apart in all directions;
  • Restrooms: customers must wear a mask when entering an indoor area for restroom use;
  • Maintaining 6 feet intervals between customers in waiting areas and restroom lines;
  • No self-service options (buffets, salad bars, or drink stations);
  • Continuously disinfect high touch areas and shared items (menus, pens, chairs, tables, counters, and keypads);
  • Barriers must be installed at cash registers, host stands, and bars;
  • Signs prohibiting anyone with COVID-19 symptoms from entering;
  • Prohibited: indoor service and smoking in the outdoor dining area.

Take-out service is still allowed. Take-out customers may enter the indoor area of an establishment to place an order, pick up food or beverages, and make payment. All take-out customers are required to wear a face mask while inside.

Employers must provide face coverings, gloves and sanitizer to employees. Employers must also conduct daily health screenings of all employees and staff members. If an employee has symptoms they must be sent home immediately and all those in contact with that employee must be screened.

Employees and staff must wash hands frequently and wear masks and gloves when handling food or drinks. Employees should stay away from customers unless serving food, taking orders, or collecting payments.

EO 150 permits local municipalities to allow food and beverage establishments to expand outdoor seating and outdoor areas. Such expansions are permitted on establishment-owned property and municipally-governed areas including sidewalks, streets, parks, and parking lots. Municipalities seeking to utilize state or county owned roadways or property must obtain county or state approval.  All establishments must obtain all required municipal approvals and permits before offering food and beverage service in outdoor areas.

Before finalizing any plans for outdoor food and beverage service, it is advised to contact your local municipality.

Questions? Please contact Nick Talvacchia, Esq. at (609)572-7544 ntalvacchia@cooperlevenson.com or Jennifer Barr, Esq. at (609)572-7410 jbarr@cooperlevenson.com to schedule a consultation to discuss any issues related to your business.               

*Trever Waldron is a Summer Associate in Cooper Levenson’s Atlantic City, New Jersey office.