Earlier this week, Governor Murphy made the announcement that Outdoor Dining will reopen in New Jersey on June 15th!

So many people, myself included, are excited to have this familiar activity return to our lives. In order to ensure everyone stays safe and healthy, the State Department of Health has guidelines that will be put in place. NJ.com detailed these guidelines in a recent article.

Here is the list of Outdoor Dining rules from the State Department of Health, as posted by NJ.com:

  • Prohibit patrons from entering indoor sections except to walk through when entering or exiting or to use the restroom.
  • Require customers to wear face coverings only when inside the building, unless there is a medical reason for not doing so or if the patron is under 2 years.
  • Require employees to wash hands when entering.
  • 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.
  • Disinfect tables, chairs, and other shared items.
  • Frequently sanitize high-touch areas, like credit-card machines.
  • Encourage reservations to help control customer volume.
  • Encourage the use of digital menus.
  • Rope off tables and chairs that can’t be used.
  • Provide tape, signs, and other guides 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, partitions at cash registers, bars, and host stands.
  • Provide hand sanitizer for customers.
  • Conduct daily health checks of workers.
  • Require employees with symptoms of COVID-19 to be sent home.
  • Provide all workers with face coverings, gloves, and sanitation materials.
  • Provide workers with break times for repeated handwashing throughout the day.
  • Require customers provide a phone number if making a reservation in case of the need for contact tracing.

Many of these rules are not surprising (like spacing apart tables, disinfecting, wearing masks, staying at home if you are sick, etc) since they resemble the social distancing guidelines we have already been following.

There is also something mentioned in the article that I did not initially consider - some bars and restaurants may not be allowed to serve alcohol outside. Good news - NJ.com explains that these bars can apply for permits that would expand their liquor license.

The availability of outdoor dining makes it feel a little more like the summer at the Jersey Shore that we all know and love. Have fun when you're outdoor dining, but always remember that safety comes first!