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What are the reopening rules for bars and restaurants? What precautions or policies must they take?

Last Updated: 07/09/2020

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

The reopening of indoor dining spaces has been postponed. Indoor dining is not allowed.

Restaurant operating hours are not limited by any State order.

Restaurants offering service in outdoor areas must follow appropriate mitigation requirements detailed in the Department of Health's Executive Directive No. 20-019 and summarized below.

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 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.

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. 150, Executive Order No. 157, ABC Special Ruling 2020-10, DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019; Executive Order No. 158; Executive Order No. 163