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Gov. Murphy signs legislation to expand outdoor dining

Bill Also Allows Craft Alcoholic Beverage Sales at Farmers Markets

NEW JERSEY– Governor Phil Murphy Friday signed legislation that will expand opportunities for outdoor dining in New Jersey.

The bill (S3340) sets forth a framework for municipalities to allow restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to utilize outdoor spaces or public sidewalks as extensions of their business premises. Many municipalities across the state have been taking these steps since the Governor authorized outdoor dining in June 2020.

“As we weather the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continually trying to find new and innovative ways to aid our state’s business community while not sacrificing our public health,” Murphy said. “This bill will give our restaurants more certainty for the future so they can once again lean into the outdoor expansions we allowed this past summer to help recoup losses and strengthen their businesses and the jobs they support.”

The bill extends the effective period of permits issued under an ABC special ruling made last summer that allowed licensees to expand the premises where they can serve alcoholic beverages to include outdoor spaces. Restaurants will now be able to maintain the permit through November 30, 2022, or the date at which indoor dining returns to full capacity at restaurants – whichever is later. In a signing statement, Governor Murphy noted that this extension will be automatic for all permitholders. The bill also establishes protocols for municipalities to review and approve outdoor space expansion requests by restaurants without liquor licenses and those with liquor licenses that have not previously obtained expansion permits.

The legislation also authorizes the ABC to create a seasonal farm market permit to allow a holder of a limited brewery license, restricted brewery license, craft distillery license, plenary winery license, farm winery license, or cidery and meadery license to sell any of the licensee’s products in original containers at a seasonal farm market for off-premises consumption. The permit could be a daily or annual permit.

“We appreciate the legislators and governor recognizing the importance of outdoor dining to the industry,” said Marilou Halvorsen, President and CEO of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association. “As we move forward past the pandemic, this will allow our restaurants to continue to operate and offer more options for our guests.”

New Jersey restaurants have been hit hard by the pandemic and the administration has continually sought ways to help keep the state’s restaurant community afloat. This week, Governor Murphy expanded capacity limits for indoor dining from 25 percent to 35 percent, while also lifting the statewide mandated 10:00 p.m. closing time for indoor service.

In October, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority set aside $35 million of its Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program to businesses classified as food service establishments. And in November, the NJEDA established the Sustain and Serve NJ Program, a grant program that will provide funding to organizations to purchase meals from restaurants that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and distribute the meals at no cost to New Jersey residents.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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