SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The borough council last week approved a resolution to ‘temporarily relax the prohibition of outdoor dining’ at South Plainfield-based restaurants, bars and other establishments during Stage 2 of the state’s reopening plan.

Resolution 20-192, which was approved 6-0, serves as a means of providing ‘assistance to local [establishments] under the current social distancing restrictions’ put forth by the state in response to the current public health emergency.

"This resolution enabling limited outside dining is an important step toward our restaurants reopening," said Glenn Cullen, the borough’s administrator and CFO. "It's important for residents to follow social distancing protocols, but it's also great to see things starting to reopen."

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In mid-March, Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order enacting several social distancing regulations and, as a result, restaurants, bars and other eateries were restricted to delivery and take out options only over the next three months. On June 3, however, Executive Order 150 was signed, permitting the aforementioned establishments to resume in person service at outdoor areas only, beginning June 15.

Under Resolution 20-192, the Borough of South Plainfield can temporarily relax the municipality’s outdoor dining restrictions, enabling restaurants, bars, and food service establishments the ability to extend and/or relocate existing seating and/or erect new tables/seats to outdoor onsite locations.  

“It is in the best interest of the borough to assist and promote the economic development of local businesses in these extremely difficult times,’ states the resolution, in part. ‘Having the ability to expand available dining space outdoors will economically assist the business faced with the reduction of capacity caused by social distancing requirements.’

Through the resolution, a business seeking to offer outdoor seating is required to submit an Outdoor Dining Plan application, available online at https://bit.ly/3di2TWo, along with a rendering depicting the proposed layout and location of said seating. Applications can be emailed to rwolff@southplainfieldnj.com and must be approved by a six-member Temporary Outdoor Dining Committee (TODC) comprised of a borough health official, borough engineer, borough fire official, borough clerk, borough police chief or his designee, and a borough zoning official before outdoor dining options may be offered. 

“Our Zoning Officer Rich Wolff is the point person for the temporary outdoor dining application," said Cullen. "He has been terrific and will walk everyone through the process." 

To date, according to borough officials, outdoor dining permits have been issued to Casa Romaro on Hamilton Boulevard along with Spice Culture, Villa Pizza, and Charleys Philly Steaks in the Hadley Center. Outdoor dining is also currently available at KC’s Korner on Oak Tree Avenue, Paulo’s on Plainfield Avenue, and Brick House Tavern and El Toro Loco on Stelton Road among a few others. 

While dining must take place outdoors, patrons visiting these establishments will be allowed to use the restrooms and masks must be worn to enter and exit the buildings. Additionally, all establishments offering outdoor dining must follow specific protocols set forth under Executive Order 150 (https://www.nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-150.pdf) and by the State of New Jersey Department of Health https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/docs/ExecutiveDirective20-014OutdoorDining.pdf.

They include, but aren’t limited to: posting signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 should enter; limit seating to a maximum of 8 customers per table and arrange seating to achieve a minimum distance of 6 feet between parties; rope off all other seating areas that are not to be used; allocate 6 feet of spacing in waiting areas; and provide physical guides, such as tape on floors, sidewalks, and signage on walls to ensure customers remain at least six feet apart in line for the restroom or waiting for seating. 

Establishments must also 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 six feet is difficult; ensure six feet of physical distancing between workers and customers, except at the moment of payment and/or when employees are servicing; require infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, 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; and require all establishments to have an inclement weather policy that, if triggered, would require the food or beverage establishment to adhere to Executive Order No. 125 (https://nj.gov/infobank/eo/056murphy/pdf/EO-125.pdf) and offer takeout or delivery service only.

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