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Bars, breweries can continue serving booze outdoors through March

Here’s something to toast to: The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control will extend allowances for bars and restaurants to serve drinks outdoors for a $10 fee, as initially allowed in June.

The expansion of premises permits were set to expire at the end of November. Expiration has been pushed back to March 31, 2021.

The ABC has issued more than 2,300 COVID-19 Expansion Permits, according to its announcement Monday.

Bars and restaurants can apply for the extension on or around Oct. 30 through the ABC’s online licensing system POSSE; they must be completed and submitted by Nov. 23.

Gov. Phil Murphy at Flounders Brewery in Hillsborough where he, along with Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Couhglin, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinoskwi announced an additional $100 million in COVID-19 relief on Oct. 13, 2020.

Gov. Phil Murphy at Flounders Brewery in Hillsborough where he, along with Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Couhglin, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and U.S. Rep. Tom Malinoskwi announced an additional $100 million in COVID-19 relief on Oct. 13, 2020. – EDWIN J. TORRES/GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

“For many of our residents, having the ability to serve liquor to their customers beyond their normal premises has been meaningful; in some cases, life saving for them and helped them survive during these challenging times,” said Gov. Phil Murphy during his Monday COVID-19 press briefing in Trenton. “Given the current uncertainty, extending these permits is the right thing to do.”

With colder temperatures expected in the coming months, outdoor dining and imbibing will have its own challenges; and restaurant, bar and brewery owners will need to devise plans to keep their customers comfortable.

“We’re gratified that the governor has seen fit to keep outdoor dining open into the winter,” said New Jersey Brewers Association Executive Director Alexis Degan. “It’s certainly a challenge to serve people outdoors, but it’s been proven a safe way to serve them, so we’re ready to meet the challenge.”

On Monday, Murphy walked back previous statements about expanding indoor dining as COVID-19 cases around the state are on the rise, making outdoor serving especially important to boozy business owners.

He also said, however, that none of New Jersey’s current outbreaks were tied to indoor dining, which resumed operations after Labor Day weekend.

“We’re hopeful that the governor is looking at the numbers critically and seeing the origins of the increase, and the data shows the increase he’s seeing is not due to indoor dining,” Degan said. “So were hopeful that we’re also going to see some responsible increases there.”

Gabrielle Saulsbery
Albany, N.Y. native Gabrielle Saulsbery is a staff writer for NJBIZ and the newest thing in New Jersey. You can contact her at gsaulsbery@njbiz.com.

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