July 08, 2020
New Jersey restaurants and bars that have areas with a fixed roof and at least two open sides are now be permitted to offer dining services, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday.
The two open sides must comprise more than 50% of the total wall space and allow for proper air flow in order to qualify as outdoor dining.
The latest modifications to the state’s outdoor dining guidelines will enable more establishments to offer dining services to customers, Murphy said.
Outdoor dining resumed in New Jersey on June 15, when the state moved into the second stage of its three-step COVID-19 reopening plan.
Indoor dining was expected to resume at limited capacity last Thursday, but state officials postponed its return until further notice due to the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission.
New Jersey reported 335 additional coronavirus cases Wednesday, increasing the statewide total to 174,039. The state also recorded 53 deaths caused by COVID-19, bringing the lab-confirmed death toll to 13,476.
South Jersey has had 23,088 cases and 1,565 deaths.
Beginning Monday, the Motor Vehicle Commission will be open six days a week to accommodate the demand of in-person services.
Offices will be open Monday through Saturday for the remainder of July. They initially were expected to open Tuesday through Friday. To keep offices fully staffed, MVC employees will be exempt from furloughs, Murphy said.
Office reopened for in-person services Tuesday after being closed for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. But demand was so high that long lines formed outside the offices.
Murphy said he was unhappy that crowds of people were forced to wait for service, insisting the state will "work harder and work better" to ensure that the customer experience improves.
"I completely understand the frustration felt by every customer forced to wait on long lines yesterday at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission as we reopen and deal with the months and months of backlog due to COVID-19," Murphy said. "What many experienced was not up to their expectations, or ours, and we will do better."
In order to reduce overcrowding, Murphy urged customers to utilize the MVC’s online services and to refrain from camping outside MVC offices.
"Stay home and stay safe. See if you can conduct business online," Murphy said. "Wait a few more days. But don’t camp out."