BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Several members of Mayors for "Main Street" expressed disappointment over Gov. Phil Murphy's decision to eliminate indoor dining from the planned reopenings for this week, and keep them closed indefinitely, according to a release from Bridgewater Township.
The mayors, the release said, are asking the governor and legislature to give local officials more control through action on pending legislation.
"We need to start trusting our small businesses to act in a responsible and safe way," Bridgewater Mayor Matthew Moench said in the release. "Many of these restaurants that have not already shuttered are hanging on by a thread. Yet another glimmer of hope dulled for these struggling business owners."
According to the release, they are calling for the passing of Assembly Bill 4190/Senate Bill S2522, which would help give local officials more control to help their struggling businesses and define a clearer regulatory scheme. It was passed 39-0 in the Senate and is pending in the Assembly.
The legislation would allow municipalities to establish a street fair model for local businesses to sell goods, food and drinks, while also maintaining social distancing and health guidelines. The release said municipalities would be able to designate certain days each week, from Thursday to Sunday, when municipal and county roads in business districts could be closed to vehicular traffic and allow for sidewalk and street retail sales, dining and alcohol consumption.
The bill would also require the Director of the Division of ABC to extend plenary retail consumption licenses to allow sales in outdoor spaces, the release said, with established customer seating requirements.
Mayors for "Main Street" is an alliance of mayors representing a number of New Jersey towns, advocating for the safe reopening of businesses in their communities. Moench is a member of the group, as are mayors from such towns as Dunellen, Mendham and Bernardsville.