New Jersey Outdoor Dining Extended to 2024

Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that allows restaurants and other establishments to continue outdoor dining until November 2024.

Outdoor Dining
Diners sit at outdoor tables in Asbury Park. Photo: Shutterstock/Joe Benning

Outdoor dining is sticking around in New Jersey after Governor Phil Murphy signed a law allowing restaurants and other establishments to continue the practice until November 2024.

The law, signed by Murphy on Wednesday, allows restaurants, bars, breweries and distilleries to keep using tables, chairs, tents, umbrellas and other furniture/coverings on their property. The bill easily passed both chambers in June.

Jersey establishments were allowed to create outdoor spaces during the pandemic when executive orders restricted indoor dining for about five months in 2020. Murphy then signed the practice into law in February 2021. That measure was set to expire this November before Murphy’s latest signing on Wednesday.

“Two years ago, we took steps to expand outdoor dining across New Jersey out of necessity. We had no choice. We augmented those steps almost exactly a year and a half ago as our vaccination efforts got up to full steam,” Murphy, beneath a tent, said before signing the law at Vesta Wood-Fired, a pizza spot in East Rutherford. “Today, I’m proud to be signing this legislation to allow outdoor dining to continue under the principles that we introduced back in 2020 and then codified in 2021 to get our restaurants through what remains of the pandemic.”

While outdoor dining became a must during the pandemic, as Murphy said, the practice proved popular. Some towns have tried to limit it after residents complained about a lack of parking, but patrons and small business owners alike have otherwise made the most of expanded outdoor spaces.

Those spaces helped restaurants stay afloat during the pandemic. Now they’re here to stay—possibly beyond November 2024.

“I’m signing this bill today because of the ever-increasing numbers of patrons who have simply come to enjoy outdoor dining on its own,” Murphy said. “They’ve come to enjoy the new atmosphere, the character, and sense of place that outdoor dining has given to their neighborhoods and downtowns. And let me say this unequivocally: We want this to continue. We want our restaurants to not just be locations, but destinations. We want them to not just be places to eat, but places where neighbors gather and communities thrive.”

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