Lawmakers moved ahead a duo of bills Thursday aimed at cutting down the costs and hassles for getting food and liquor delivered to one’s home, as millions of New Jerseyans self-isolate amid a global pandemic.
One measure, Senate Bill 2347, would cap the fees that online delivery services such as Grubhub and Uber Eats charge during the COVID-19 pandemic. That bill was approved in the state Senate on Thursday, though it has not yet moved out of committee on the Assembly side.
Fees would be capped at 20 percent of the order, or 10 percent if a third-party is not actually making the delivery, and it’s instead done by a restaurant worker or independent contractor.
A second measure, Assembly Bill 3966, would allow any place that sells alcohol – such as bars, restaurants and craft distilleries – to deliver their products to residences during the COVID-19 pandemic – that includes beer, wine, hard liquor and now cocktail mixes.
The state Legislature delivered the bill to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.
“Restaurants are having enough trouble retaining normal staff right now, let alone hiring new delivery staff,” Sen. Vin Gopal, D-11th District, S2347’s sponsor, said in a Thursday statement.
“Many struggling restaurants are relying on the income provided by these third-party deliveries to make ends meet, but while most third-party delivery and takeout apps are acting in good faith, some bad actors are taking advantage of them.”
Bars and dine-in restaurants have been effectively required to scale back the services they offer, under the governor’s state shutdown orders. Food is available for takeout and delivery only.
And residents are bound by a state-at-home order, while public transit options have been slashed amid plummeting demand, limiting ways to get around.
“With diningrooms and bars closed across our state, it makes no sense to ban restaurants and craft beverage manufacturers from offering alcoholic beverages for takeout and delivery,” Gopal, who also sponsored A3966’s Senate version, said on Thursday.
Liquor stores are currently allowed under state law to deliver alcohol, and this extension to bars and restaurants would only be in effect during the governor’s public health emergency.
Mixed drinks would need to be delivered in sealed and tamper-proof containers capped at 16 ounces.
With food delivery, several Republican lawmakers have called for the fees to be capped at 17.5 percent, albeit voluntarily.
“Right now fees running as high as 30 percent are crushing our restaurants who essentially have no choice but to pay. Delivery services are playing a critical role in allowing residents to order and support from local restaurants during the shutdown,” reads a joint statement from several Monmouth County Republicans.
That statement was signed off by Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, Assemblywoman Serena Dimaso and Assemblyman Gerard Scharfenberger, all R-13th District.