BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The Bernards Township Committee this week followed through a vote to lift some local restrictions on township businesses while they struggle to reopen even while many statewide COVID-19 restrictions still apply.

"Let's do everything we can to continue helping our businesses going forward," Mayor James Baldassare said at the June 9 meeting where Township Committee members voted 5-0 to approve a resolution "permitting relief of certain ordinances to assist local businesses as they re-open following the lifting of COVID-19 executive orders. 

The activities for which portions of local ordinances can be relaxed, waived, and modified for local businesses while they are awaiting reopening may include, but are not limited to: 1) signs for businesses;  2) allowing curbside pick-up for food or merchandise; 3) allowing outdoor seating for dining; 4) allowing outdoor storage and sale of merchandise; 5) permitting street closings for certain activities; and 6) other services that can be performed outdoors.

Sign Up for Basking Ridge Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Township Committeewoman Joan Harris reminded the public to, "Shop Local."

The governor has been allowing the reopening of the state in stages. Outdoor dining is set to resume throughout New Jersey on June 15.

Along with applying for relief from some of the township's usual restrictions, Municipal Clerk Rhonda Pisano said that establishments that already hold a liquor license can apply to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission for a $75 "COVID19 permit" to allow them to serve alcohol outdoors during local dining.

Nevertheless, the businesses that are reopening must continue to work within the confines of the state executive order, township officials said this week. 

The resolution will expire by Nov. 1 unless the government rescinds its emergency requirements earlier," Baldassare said.

A township-wide emergency declaration approved on March 24 left open the possibility for the development and issuance of a "special use permit" to tbe issued to local businesses to "permit and facilitate various activities of reopening their business and such permit shall outline the activities and manner for how these activities and uses are to be conducted."

The emergency declaration states that “the mayor is authorized to grant temporary deviations or variances from the township’s general and land development ordinances where emergent circumstances for the benefit of the public health, safety and welfare so require,' and that the Township Committee would "reaffirm its commitment to the health, safety and welfare of its residents."

"This resolution shall take effect when such reopening activities are permitted by state statutes, regulations, or executive orders of Governor Murphy and accompanying executive directives from the New Jersey Department of Health, and may be amended, modified, or changed at any time to protect the health and safety of citizens," according to measure approved on Tuesday night.

Baldassare posted additional information on the Bernards Township Facebook page.