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What are the reopening rules for bars and restaurants in New Jersey?

What precautions or policies must they take?

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Eating Out; Stay Safe

Food or beverage establishments may open, including restaurants, bars, cafeterias, and food courts, as well as all holders of a liquor license with retail consumption privileges.

Establishments must follow appropriate mitigation requirements detailed in the Department of Health's Protocols for Outdoor Dining, Executive Order No. 157, Executive Order No. 183, and the Department of Health's Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining, which are 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;
  • Adhere to all other health and safety protocols in DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019.

Note: Areas with a fixed roof, if two sides are open, comprising over 50% of their total wall space, may operate under rules for outdoor dining under Executive Order No. 163.

What to Expect at Indoor Restaurants and Bars

The following summarizes some of the protocols contained in DOH's Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining and EO 183. However, this summary is not a replacement for fully complying with the terms of the health and safety standards and EO 183and businesses should read the full guidance carefully to ensure full compliance.

Food and beverage establishments must:

  • Limit the number of patrons in indoor areas to 25 percent of the food or beverage establishment's indoor capacity, excluding the food or beverage establishment's employees;
  • Limit seating to a maximum of eight (8) customers per table (unless they are from a family from the same household) and arrange seating to achieve a minimum distance of six feet (6 ft) between parties;
  • Require customers to only consume food or beverages while seated;
  • Require patrons to wear face coverings while inside the indoor premises of the food or beverage establishment, except when eating or drinking at their table;
  • For food or beverage establishments with table service, require that customers be seated in order to place orders;
  • For food or beverage establishments with table service, require that wait staff bring food or beverages to seated customers; and
  • Keep doors and windows open where possible and utilize fans to improve ventilation.

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 free of charge;
  • Provide employees break time for repeated handwashing throughout the workday; and
  • Provide sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to staff.

Full dining guidance for food and beverage establishments can be found in Executive Order No. 157, DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019, Executive Order No. 183, and the Department of Health's Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining.

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. 150, Executive Order No. 157, ABC SpecialRuling 2020-10, DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019; Executive Order No. 158; Executive Order No. 163; Executive Order No. 183, DOH Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining.

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