EDISON, NJ - Edison’s Mayor Thomas Lankey signed an executive order this week extending outdoor dining until December 31st. Restaurants are permitted to use 20% of their parking lot (and any other available space on their property) as an outdoor eating area. They are also allowed 25% indoor occupancy of patrons, as long as everyone is six feet apart from one another.
Governor Phil Murphy’s late August announcement that restaurants can serve food outdoors began September 4th and ends October 31.
The mayor’s Executive Order specifies that restaurants need to submit an application to extend their outdoor dining. The Township’s zoning office, police, fire and health offices will approve the application (if it meets all of the requirements) within seven days and application fees will be waived.
The Township departments will evaluate “potential for impact on neighboring properties, traffic considerations, safety of workers, patrons and others in the vicinity of the restaurant, and the ability to maintain social distance consistent with existing Executive Orders issued by the Office of the Governor, with hours of operation limited to 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.”
The mayor’s Executive Order mandates “a ‘contactless’ point for ordering and delivery of food and beverages; social distancing being maintained at all times including at points for ordering and delivery of food; personal protective equipment as required by existing law or Executive Orders; wherever possible, payment for such food and beverages shall be made through electronic means.”
Bathroom trips require strict social distancing as well as the availability of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for staff and patrons. The restaurant must have “conspicuous signage” at entrances and throughout the restaurant reminding people to say at least six feet away from each other.
The Executive Order warns that violating any provision of the conditions severs the agreement and will result in outdoor dining being banned at the restaurant.
The extension reflects the mayor’s and township’s desire to aid local businesses during this difficult time. Many restaurants have been forced to close their businesses due to lost revenue during the pandemic.
Restaurants throughout the state are waiting to find out if Governor Murphy will extend outdoor dining. Hoboken has extended outdoor dining through the end of the year. Morristown has approved continuing theirs through November 1st.
Berkeley Heights Township Council is voting on an ordinance to allow outdoor dining through April 2021. There are many tents, heat, gas, electrical and other rules to comply with. Restaurants also have to submit a diagram of where the heaters and fire extinguishers will be.
Restaurants have suffered severe financial loss during the pandemic. Delivering and take out service, even in conjunction with 25% occupancy inside the building, doesn’t enable restaurants to replicate the amount of business that they enjoyed before COVID-19.
Lawmakers continue to try to help businesses without increasing the maximum indoor patronage (yet). Governor Murphy has extended permission to serve liquor outdoors through March 2021.
In addition, Senator Vin Gopal (D-11th District) is sponsoring a bill to create a new type of liquor license that permits restaurants to sell beer, wine and cider for a fee that’s much less than the existing liquor license costs.