Bars and restaurants may currently open for drive-through, delivery, takeout, and outdoor dining.

Beginning Friday, September 4, restaurants may resume indoor dining at 25% capacity, while following all health and safety guidelines.

Restaurants must follow appropriate mitigation requirements detailed in the Department of Health’s Executive Directive No. 20-019Executive Order No. 157Executive Order No. 163, forthcoming guidance on indoor dining, and summarized below. and summarized below.

Restaurant operating hours are not limited by any State order.

What to Expect at Outdoor Restaurants and Bars

The following summarizes some of the protocols contained in DOH ED 20-019 and EO 157. However, this summary is not a replacement for fully complying with the terms of DOH ED 20-019 and EO 157 and businesses should read the full guidance carefully to ensure full compliance.

Establishments must institute the following policies:

  • Limit seating to a maximum of 8 customers per table – unless from an immediate family or the same household – and arrange seating to achieve a minimum distance of 6 feet between parties;
  • Encourage reservations for greater control of customer traffic;
  • Cordon off any indoor or outdoor dance floors to the public;
  • Require customers to provide a phone number if making a reservation to facilitate contact tracing;
  • Consider alternatives to paper/physical menus (whiteboards, electronic menus);
  • Provide a hand sanitizer station for customers; and
  • Require customers who wish to enter the indoor portion of the establishment to wear a face covering, unless the customer has a medical reason for not doing so or is a child under two years of age;
  • Require that groups stay 6 feet apart, even in areas where groups are not assigned seating;
  • Prohibit smoking in any outdoor areas designated for consumption of food and/or beverages;
  • Adhere to all other health and safety protocols in DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019.

Note: Restaurants may offer in-person dining service in areas with a fixed roof if two sides are open, comprising over 50 percent of their total wall space. Under Executive Order No. 163, these areas are considered outdoor.

What to Expect at Indoor Restaurants and Bars
Detailed guidance is forthcoming, including comprehensive health and safety guidelines from the Department of Health. The following is a summary of some, but not all, of the protocols that will be in place for restaurants:

  • Limit capacity to 25 percent.
  • Cap dining groups at eight individuals, except for immediate families
  • Keep groups of diners at least six feet apart
  • Require staff to wear masks at all times
  • Require diners to wear masks at all times when they are not in their seats; any customer who does not wear or refuses to wear a face mask without a legitimate medical reason cannot be seated indoors
  • Ask diners to keep their masks on while waiting for food and once they are finished eating or drinking
  • Food and drinks can only be consumed while diners are seated
  • For restaurants with table service, food must be ordered while seated at the table and the staff must bring food or drink
  • For restaurants with food service at bars, patrons may dine at the bar, providing that all diners are kept at proper social distance; groups seated together at the bar are capped at four individuals
  • Open windows to ensure a proper flow of fresh air into dining areas
  • Turn air conditioner units so that they allow for the maximum amount of outdoor air to be introduced to the dining area and that the amount of air being recirculated is at its lowest possible setting
  • Inspect and evaluate the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit to ensure that the system is operating effectively; routine maintenance should be conducted on these systems
  • Run the HVAC system for two hours before and two hours after the facility is occupied; restaurants should consider installing portable air cleaners equipped with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to increase the amount of clean air within the facility
  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever of symptoms of COVID-19 should enter the establish
  • Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors and sidewalks, and signage on walls, to ensure that customers remain six feet apart in line for the restroom for waiting for seating
  • Restaurants are encouraged to take reservations for greater control of traffic and volume; customers should wait in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting for a table if the outdoor waiting area cannot accommodate social distancing
  • Buffets, salad bars, and other self-service options are prohibited at this time
  • Disinfect all shared items such as chairs, condiments, menus, and high-touch areas such as credit card machines, keypads and counters
  • Provide hand sanitizer station for customers
  • Install physical barriers at cash registers, host stands, and other areas where maintaining a physical distance of six feet is difficult
  • Conduct daily health screenings of employees
  • Provide training in handwashing, cleaning/disinfection, social distancing, use of frace coverings, and monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in the workplace

Guidance for Employees
Food or beverage establishments offering service must impose the following requirements on employees:

  • Require employees to wash and/or sanitize their hands when entering the food or beverage establishment;
  • Conduct daily health checks (e.g. temperature screening and/or symptom checking) of employees safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations;
  • Require employees with symptoms of COVID-19 be sent home;
  • Require all employees to wear face coverings, except where doing so would inhibit the individual’s health, or if it would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task (i.e. cooks that work near open flames);
  • Provide all employees with face coverings and gloves free of charge;
  • Provide employees break time for repeated handwashing throughout the workday;
  • Provide sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to staff; and
  • Encourage employees to obtain COVID-19 testing.

Full dining guidance for food and beverage establishments can be found in DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019.

Additionally, a special ruling by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) temporarily permits establishments with liquor licenses to expand their licensed premises into outdoor areas. To learn more, refer to the NJ ABC’s special ruling.

For additional information on COVID-19’s impact on businesses and mitigation requirements for businesses, please visit the State of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Business Information Hub.

Sources: Executive Order No. 150Executive Order No. 157ABC Special Ruling 2020-10DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019Executive Order No. 158Executive Order No. 163; Governor’s Remarks

Article Courtesy of the State of New Jersey