On February 5, 2021, Governor Murphy signed legislation expanding outdoor dining opportunities for breweries, distilleries, restaurants, and bars in New Jersey during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill (S3340) provides a framework for municipalities to allow restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to operate outdoor spaces or public sidewalks as extensions of their business premises. This is a step many municipalities across the state have already taken since the Governor authorized outdoor dining in June 2020.
The law extends the effective period of permits issued under the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Special Ruling 2020-10 issued last summer. The special ruling allowed licensees to enlarge the premises where alcoholic beverages may be served to include outdoor spaces after obtaining a permit from the ABC. This allows for breweries, distilleries, restaurants and bars to be able to maintain the permit through November 30, 2022, or the date at which indoor dining returns to full capacity at restaurants(whichever is later). The extension will be automatic for all entities that received the permit. The law also creates protocols for municipalities to review and approve outdoor space expansion for eligible businesses that have not previously obtained an expansion permit.
Further, the legislation allows the ABC to create a seasonal farm market permit for limited brewery license, restricted brewery license, craft distillery license, plenary winery license, farm winery license, or cidery and meadery license holders to sell any of its products in original containers at a seasonal farm market for off-premises consumption. The permit may be a daily or annual permit.
The law recognizes that these New Jersey establishments have been hit hard by the pandemic, and the government needs to continue to support new ways for small business owners to operate during the ongoing public health crisis.