(TRENTON) – Commercial farms, restaurants and retail businesses have opted to use tents, canopies and other enclosed outdoor spaces to safely serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, currently there are restrictions on how long businesses can use these temporary structures.
The full Assembly on Thursday voted 79-0 to approve a bill (A-4525) to remove these restrictions, allowing tents, enclosed canopies and other temporary outdoor spaces to remain in place during the COVID-19 emergency until indoor dining resumes in New Jersey without capacity limits or on December 31, 2020, whichever is later. This includes temporary spaces used by farmers markets, retail businesses, restaurants, breweries, wineries or other places where food or beverages are sold.
The sponsors, Assembly Democrats Roy Freiman (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon), Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), Anthony Verrelli (D-Mercer, Hunterdon)) and Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), released the following joint statement:
“Moving operations outdoors has been a lifeline for businesses to stay afloat amid COVID-19. From outdoor dining in parking lots to shopping under canopies, businesses have found creative ways to serve their patrons during this public health crisis. While the struggles of restaurants and retailers have been largely documented, commercial farms and farmers markets have also suffered as a result of the coronavirus. All have needed to adapt and rise to this unprecedented challenge.
“This legislation is an example of finding a creative solution that will protect public health and help our economy continue to recover.”
The measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration.