New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law on Wednesday that extends outdoor dining permissions that were initially authorized due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the first year of the pandemic, when New Jersey rolled back restrictions and allowed restaurants to offer outdoor dining, the state enacted temporary regulations allowing dining establishments to use tents, canopies, umbrellas, tables, chairs, and other equipment for outdoor seating.
Those regulations were set to expire in November, but Murphy’s action has extended them until 2024.
“What was born out of necessity to help ensure the survival of wonderful local restaurants … we are now continuing out of the recognition of the way it has positively changed both the hospitality industry and the lives of our communities,” Murphy said at Wednesday’s signing, which took place outside a local pizza restaurant in East Rutherford.
The new law allows for outdoor dining from April to November.
“Serving patrons outdoors allowed us to increase capacity up to 30% more, reduce waiting times, offer a different atmosphere, help reduce transmission of COVID-19, and help us recuperate losses due to the pandemic. Extending these permissions will help us get back on our feet after this arduous battle,” Luis de la Hoz, chair of the board for the HIspanic Statewide Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement on Wednesday.
The pandemic has proven that there is demand for outdoor dining.
According to a January survey conducted by restaurant reservation service, Open Table, 82 % of respondents wanted outdoor dining options to expand in their respective states.
A Morning Consult report, updated in June, found that more people are still most comfortable dining outdoors versus indoors.