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February 07, 2021

N.J. restaurants permitted to expand spaces for outdoor dining service

The measure, which had previously been vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy, will also allow for alcoholic beverages to be sold at seasonal farmers markets

New Jersey eateries that wish to expand their footprint for outdoor dining service will now be permitted to do so under legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday.

The bill allows for municipalities to authorize restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries to use public outdoor spaces and sidewalks as extensions of their business premises. 

The legislation provides guidelines for local officials to review and approve all outdoor dining space requests made by restaurants without liquor licenses or ones with licenses who have not previously received expansion permits.

The bill also extends the period of expansion permits issued last summer by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to allow restaurants with liquor licenses to expand their premises where alcoholic beverages could be served to outdoor spaces. 

These permits are now automatically in effect through November 2022 or whenever indoor dining service at restaurants reaches full capacity again — whichever date is later. Indoor dining service at New Jersey restaurants currently cannot exceed 35% capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control will also now create daily and annual permits to allow those who hold a 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 their products in original containers at seasonal farmers markets for off-site consumption. 

“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.” 

Murphy previously vetoed the bill last month, saying that it gave all licensing power over to local governments. 

Outdoor dining service at restaurants across New Jersey resumed last June amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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