Reopening Plan Resulted from Downtown Westfield Reopening Task Force

The Downtown Westfield Corporation (“DWC”) is announcing today the Downtown Westfield Reopening Plan (“Plan”) scheduled to take effect next Monday. The Plan was crafted based on recommendations from the Downtown Westfield Reopening Task Force (“Task Force”), chaired by DWC Executive Director Bob Zuckerman.

The purpose of the Task Force, formed by Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle, was to devise a plan to reopen the downtown business district after many were shuttered by the State of New Jersey as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 150 which permits outdoor dining and the opening of non-essential retail on Monday, June 15.

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“I’m very proud of the reopening plan that our Task Force developed, as it prioritizes public health, while balancing the interests of our residents and visitors with the needs of our local small businesses,” said Zuckerman.

The plan includes expanded outdoor dining capacity, allows retailers to establish tables outside their stores to help offset indoor reduced capacity requirements, provides free 15-minute parking for pickups and deliveries, and designates Quimby Street for pedestrians only during the weekends on a trial basis.

The Task Force, comprised of business and property owners as well as government officials – including those from the Town Council, Police, Fire, Public Works and Health departments --  surveyed the public on various reopening options, and 81% of the more than 2,000 respondents said that they were either much more likely or more likely to shop and dine downtown if Westfield dedicated some streets to pedestrian activity.

“Our residents have been tremendously supportive of our local businesses throughout these unprecedented circumstances, and now these businesses need our help more than ever as we approach our new normal,” said Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle. “This reopening plan uses some of our best downtown assets to give the public numerous options to dine, shop and stroll outside while practicing safe social distancing. I know that many residents are ready to get out and enjoy Downtown Westfield, and I encourage everyone to do so responsibly.”

The plan was rolled out during a webinar the DWC conducted with its businesses on Tuesday morning, June 9. The webinar, led by Zuckerman and Mayor Brindle, can be found on the DWC website, westfieldtoday.com.

The following are the details of the plan:

RETAIL

Non-essential retail operations can open on June 15 as long as they comply with the rules in Executive Order 122 that essential retail stores currently have to comply with, which include limiting occupancy to 50% of maximum capacity. Under NJ Executive Order 150, retail establishments and service providers will be able to place a table outside their store for a outdoor transactions seven days of the week.

HAIR SALONS AND BARBERSHOPS

Hair salons and barbershops can reopen on June 22. We are still awaiting additional guidelines as to the procedures they will be required to follow.

OUTDOOR DINING

Under NJ Executive Order 150, Westfield will allow restaurants and other establishments that serve food to expand their footprint for outdoor dining, both in front of their property and on adjacent sidewalks. All restaurants and food establishments will be required to submit an application for an outdoor dining permit with the Town Clerk’s office which will include a sketch showing where they would like to place their outdoor tables. Restaurants will not be able to place tables outside until they receive a permit from the Clerk.

Before placing tables outside, all restaurants and food establishments must sign off that they will comply with NJ Executive Directive 20-014, which specifies the COVID-19 protocols from the NJ State Department of Health for food or beverage establishments offering service in outdoor areas.

Establishments with existing liquor licenses will be eligible to apply for a COVID-19 Expansion Permit with the NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. This new permit will allow licensed establishments to expand their premises onto areas adjacent to or contiguous with the licensed premises. Licensed establishments who only sell alcoholic beverages in to-go containers will not need a new permit.

Westfield will place temporary expanded street seating with concrete barriers on the southern portion of Prospect Street between 16 and 20 Prospect Street. Additional parklet space in the downtown will be considered at a future date.

STREET CLOSURES

Westfield will close Quimby Street between the hours of 3 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. on Monday between June 20 and July 5 on a trial basis. The restaurants on that block will be able to move tables out onto the street for additional outdoor dining. Furthermore, the DWC will program the space on Sundays with exercise classes, yoga classes and other non-contact programming. Additionally, the DWC will secure live musicians for both Saturday and Sunday nights during the trial weekends.

PARKING

In order to facilitate easy ongoing access to curbside pick up, all the parking spots on Quimby Street and on Elm Street (between E. Broad Street and North Avenue) will be free 15-minute parking spots for curbside pickup and for delivery vehicles. Customers looking for longer term parking are encouraged to park on adjacent streets.

Employees of local businesses, especially from those on Elm and Quimby Streets, should park in employee-permitted spots at the train station parking lot or the lot behind Baron’s.

The Town Council is expected to vote on a resolution at its June 9 meeting to approve the outdoor seating and authorize Town Clerk to issue the related licenses.

“I’d like to thank the many residents, businesses, and downtown property owners who provided their input to devise this initial plan,” said Zuckerman. “It’s important to remember that we expect to adapt and make modifications over time, as we see what works best and where we can do better to ensure that the interests of both consumers and businesses are met in this new normal.”