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June 2020

New Jersey Announces Outdoor Dining Protocols and Process to Allow Liquor Licensees to Expand Premises

Last updated June 5, 2020

Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 150 yesterday, which will allow restaurants, bars and other food or beverage establishments to provide in person service and outdoor dining and alcohol consumption starting June 15. As we begin Stage 2 of the plan to slowly reopen the hospitality economy during the coronavirus pandemic, New Jersey’s Department of Health (“DOH”) and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) simultaneously issued Orders which detail protocols for New Jersey restaurants and bars to sell and serve food and alcohol.

Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Establishes Temporary COVID-19 Permit to Expand Licensed Premises

ABC will allow licensees who wish to allow outdoor dining and consumption of alcohol to expand or license new outdoor spaces to apply for a COVID-19 Expansion of Premises Permit (“COVID-19 Expansion Permit”). The area in which a licensee can expand to may be contiguous or non-contiguous to their permanently licensed area. This means that outdoor property that is a reasonable proximity to the licensed premises can be used to sell and serve food and alcoholic beverages. The licensee must maintain possessory interest and control over the additional non-contiguous area. Local authorities will also be able to permit restaurants and bars that don’t already have outdoor space to use parking lots, sidewalks, streets, parks, “parklets” and other areas for service of food and/or alcoholic beverage consumption and “outdoor dining.”

Licensees may apply for a COVID-19 Expansion Permit through the online ABC POSSE system. The application must be submitted with supporting documents, including but not limited to, photos and/or a sketch of the proposed area, along with a detailed security plan. The permit is good through November 30, 2020 and costs $75. All COVID-19 Expansion Permit applications will be reviewed through the POSSE system by the local issuing authority and must be endorsed or approved by the Municipal Clerk and Chief of Police.

For full details, please review the ABC Special Ruling 2020-10, Establishing Temporary COVID 19 Permit to Expand Licensed Premises.

Department of Health Guidelines for Service in Outdoor Areas

Under guidelines outlined by the DOH to provide for healthy hygiene practices and a healthy environment, restaurants or alcoholic beverage establishments offering outdoor dining are required to follow certain protocols for operation, and must institute policies with respect to customers and while protecting their employees.

DOH requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Limit seating to eight (8) customers per table, and arrange seating so that tables are a minimum of six (6) feet apart.

  • Prohibit patrons from entering indoor area except to walk through when entering or exiting or to use the restroom.

  • Require customers to wear face coverings when inside the building, unless there is a medical reason for not doing so or if the patron is under 2 years old.

  • Require employees to wash hands when entering work, and require employees to wear face coverings, unless it would inhibit their health, and to wear gloves when in contact with customers and when handing food, utensils, and other items.

  • Eliminate self-serve food and drink options like buffets, salad bars, and drink stations.

  • Prohibit smoking in outdoor areas where people are drinking and eating.

  • Disinfect tables, chairs, and other shared items like menus, condiments or pens and encourage the use of digital menus.

  • Frequently sanitize high-touch areas, for example, credit-card machines and counters.

  • Encourage reservations and take phone numbers to help with contact tracing.

  • Recommend customers wait in their cars or away from the establishment while waiting for a table if outdoor wait areas do not allow for proper social distancing.

  • Provide tape, signs, and other guidance on floors, sidewalks, and walls to make sure patrons stay six feet apart while going to the restroom or waiting for a table.

  • Install physical barriers and partitions, and provide hand sanitizer for customers.

  • Conduct daily health checks of workers, and require employees with symptoms of COVID-19 to be sent home.

  • Provide all workers with face coverings, gloves, and sanitation materials.

For full details, please review the Department of Health Executive Directive No. 20-014; COVID-19 Protocols for Food or Beverage Establishments Offering Service in Outdoor Areas Pursuant to Executive Order No. 150.

Other helpful links:

State of New Jersey Press Release - June 3, 2020

Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 150

If you have any questions or require any assistance regarding the operation of your liquor license, or have questions regarding how to secure a COVID-19 Expansion Permit, please contact the authors listed below.


This publication contains general information on recent legal developments and is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

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