ROBBINSVILLE, NJ - To help cut bureaucratic red-tape, the Robbinsville Township Council passed an ordinance Thursday to support "temporary, practical measures that enable such establishments to augment their dine-in capabilities as a means to boost customer activity."

Under Governor Phil Murphy's Executive Order, restaurants may reopen on Monday, June 15 to provide limited outdoor dining . The Order allows local municipalities the ability to create guidelines for outdoor dining in their town.  

The Robbinsville ordinance creates a Temporary Outdoor Restaurant Seating Application and Permit for restaurants to provide new or expanded outdoor dining for "up to 160 days unless a longer or shorter time is established by an Executive Order issued by the Governor." The application will be reviewed by the Township's Department of Health and Department of Community Development.

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Local restaurants can locate outdoor seating areas on "public sidewalks where adequate provision is made for the pedestrian public, on relatively level grass areas, and in parking lots where an adequate number of parking stalls remain." 

Safety measures such as "bollards or other protection structures shall be erected along the perimeters" of seating areas in parking lots. Temporary lighting is required for areas used after dusk. The resolution also outlines that "serving stations and a host podium may be located within an outdoor restaurant seating area provided a plexiglass or other similar partition is used."   

Each table is limited to eight patrons at a time with six feet of spacing between tables. The restaurant also must have conspicuous signs, demarcations, or floor table to indication the six-feet social distancing guidelines. Health protocols must be in place including: disinfecting all tables, chairs and any other shared items (menus, condiments, pens) after each use; requiring regular handwashing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal; and requiring frequent sanitization of high-touch areas like credit card machines, keypads, and counters. 

Only restaurants who already have liquor license permits will be able to do so in the outdoor dining areas.  All temporary outdoor dining must be closed by 11:00pm.

In the event of inclement weather, restaurants would be expected to discontinue outdoor dining and only provide take-out or curbside service. 

The outdoor seating area could be closed or shrunk in size "if proper social distancing is not maintained or the restaurant establishment does not comply with applicable sanitary and cleaning standards, use of masks and partitions."

At Ravello by Toscano's on Route 130, an outdoor tent has already been erected where diners will be served. Other local restaurants such as Daphe's Diner, Tacorito, PJ's Pancake House and DeLorenzo's are expected to have outdoor dining available next week. 

Applications will be hand-delivered to local eateries as well as available on the Township website. 

In May, Township also posted the Robbinsville's Open for Business guide to local eateries that provide take-out and curbside options.   

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