HOBOKEN, NJ - Today is a big day for the Hoboken business community, as dining and retail return to the Mile Square City. Indoor dining is still not allowed, but hospitality venues have been creatively building up outdoor space to accommodate hungry and thirsty patrons. Meanwhile shoppers can return to stores, but restrictions still apply.
"As a part of Governor Murphy’s phased re-opening parameters, non-essential retail stores are permitted to re-open indoors at 50% capacity on Monday, with face masks still required by all employees and customers," said Mayor Ravi Bhalla.
Bars and restaurants in the Mile Square City were among the first to in the nation to be lcoked down due to COVID-19. In doing so, Hoboken became “the model” for the regional response to the pandemic. Now that those businesses are set to reopen, the business model will face a number of restrictions and challenges.
Businesses that do not have outdoor sidewalk cafes will not face application fees for new applications, Businesses that already paid for one this year will be credited for 2021. Restaurants that have sidewalk cafes can expand to adjacent properties—with the neighboring property owner’s consent—but six feet of sidewalk width must be maintained at all times, and tables/chairs must be six feet apart (measured from backs of opposite chairs) to maintain social distancing.
In addition, here are the requirements for businesses, as stated in Governor Murphy’s outdoor dining executive order:
"Our staff in City Hall, in addition to Lt. Kucz from the Hoboken Police Department, have been working hard to speak to business owners and assist with outdoor expansion through the parklets, streateries, open streets, and more thanks to our business recovery plan," said Mayor Ravi Bhalla.
- Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 should enter the food or beverage establishment
- Limit seating to a maximum of eight (8) customers per table and arrange seating to achieve a minimum distance of six feet (6 ft) between parties
- Rope off or otherwise mark tables, chairs and bar stools that are not to be used
- Demarcate 6 feet of spacing in patron waiting areas
- Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors, sidewalks, and signage on walls to ensure that customers remain at least 6 ft apart in line for the restroom or waiting for seating
- Eliminate self-service food or drink options such as buffets, salad bars, and self-service drink stations
- Disinfect all tables, chairs and any other shared items (menus, condiments, pens) after each use
- Install physical barriers and partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands and other area where maintaining physical distance of 6 ft is difficult
- Ensure 6 ft of physical distancing between workers and customers, except at the moment of payment and/or when employees are servicing the table
- Require infection control practices, such as regular handwashing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal
- Require frequent sanitization of high-touch areas like credit card machines, keypads, and counters to which the public and workers have access
- Place conspicuous signage at entrance alerting staff and customers to the required 6 ft of physical distance
- Require all food or beverage establishments to have an inclement weather policy that, if triggered, would require the food or beverage establishment 2 to adhere to Executive Order No. 125 (2020) and offer takeout or delivery service only
Furthermore, businesses should conduct daily health screenings for employees (temperature screenings and/or symptom checking), and provide and require employees to wear face masks. Customers must wear face masks when going inside the business or using the restroom.
Reservations should be made whenever possible to limit overcrowding at restaurants. All businesses must have tables and chairs at outdoor cafe areas, as open outdoor bar areas without seating is prohibited.
“We are glad to help with an economic recovery in our mile square,” said Hoboken Economic Recovery Task Force task force co-chairs Grace Sciancalepore and Anthony Pino last month. “As owners of small businesses, we know first-hand how challenging it has been during COVID. We want to provide our support to the City as we plan for ways to keep everyone safe when supporting the many terrific local businesses, and look forward to working with the task force members.”
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.