(TRENTON) – To ensure businesses can continue using outdoor areas to safely serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the full Assembly on Monday unanimously approved (75-0) legislation to allow restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to use public sidewalks and outdoor spaces to serve food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages if so licensed, until November 30, 2022 or until businesses can operate in New Jersey without capacity limits, whichever is later.
Under the bill (A-5246), businesses may operate on property they own or lease, which is located on or adjacent to their business premises.
Additionally, the measure would also allow the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to issue permits to licensed breweries, distilleries, wineries, cideries and meaderies to sell products at seasonal farmers markets. These permits give businesses more opportunities to sell products and increase their revenue.
The Senate also approved the measure by a vote of 32-0, and it now heads to the Governor’s desk.
Sponsors of the bill, 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 protects public health and enables local businesses and municipalities flexibility, while at the same time helps our economy continue to recover. By working together, we were able to find a helpful solution to a problem that was originally perceived to be insurmountable.”