TRENTON, NJ — Bar and restaurants across New Jersey can serve alcohol outdoors through the end of March, under an expansion of liquor license permits initially triggered this summer to help businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, the indoor capacity limit remains at 25 percent, as many eating and drinking establishments in the Garden State are gearing up for new challenges, given the dip in temperatures.  

The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) will extend allowances on serving outdoors for a $10 fee. Initially issued in June ahead of restaurants being allowed to serve customers outdoors, the special outdoor liquor license permits were set to expire at the end of November. 

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“For many of our residents having the ability to serve liquor to their customers beyond their normal premises has been meaningful. In some cases, life saving (as it has helped) them survive during these challenging times,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during his COVID-19 press briefing on October 19.

In September, after nearly half a year of forced closures due to the ongoing health crisis, the state allowed indoor dining, gymnasiums and movie theaters to resume with a 25 percent capacity rule, as well as other safety protocols.  

READ MORE: Restaurants Welcome Back Patrons Indoors Under Umbrella of COVID-19 Restrictions

During the briefing, Murphy announced there were 1,192 new coronavirus cases in New Jersey (total of 221,205) and four more deaths (total of 14,425 confirmed and 1,789 considered “probable”). There were also 16 deaths in hospitals on October 18, believed to COVID related but awaiting confirmation.

Five counties reported more than 100 coronavirus cases, including 154 in Ocean, 132 in Essex, 109 in Union, 108 in Middlesex and 103 in Bergen. 

Monmouth County reported there were 80 new positive cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths related to the virus. In addition, there are 80 hospitalized patients — 19 in intensive care and 12 on ventilators due to COVID-19, as of October 19.

To date, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in Monmouth since March is 13,395.

"As cooler weather pulls more of us back inside, we must remain extra vigilant," Murphy said, noting that the majority of new cases trace back to private gatherings inside homes rather than the loosening of restrictions on school openings and businesses. 

The positivity rate in the state stands at 3.36 percent with a rate of transmission (Rt) of 1.14. The hospital census is as follows: 758 patients being treated (579 confirmed and 179 “persons under investigation"), 62 people require ventilators and 166 in intensive/critical care. 

According to state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, the state began to experience a surge in coronavirus in September. At that point, she said, cases climbed from the high 300s to between 500 and 600 daily. Today and as of late, health officials have confirmed as high as 1,000 cases a day — numbers that mirror nationwide trends. 

“Overall, we are seeing more widespread cases throughout the state due to community spread and not any single event or reopening step,” Persichilli said. 

“I know we are all tired of COVID-19 and all the precautions necessary to prevent the spread of disease and the restrictions we have endured. It is understandable that residents want life to go back to normal. But as we approach the holiday season, now is the time to double down on social distancing, wearing face coverings and good hand hygiene. In the coming weeks, our behavior will be critical in shaping how our holidays will be celebrated,” the health commissioner added.

  • Click here for the New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard.
  • Click here for Monmouth County’s latest coronavirus information.
  • Click here for Monmouth University’s COVID-19 Campus Dashboard.

Below is Murphy's October 20 briefing: 

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