NOTE: Effective Thursday, November 12, all restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounges that serve food and drink must close their indoor premises for business by 10 pm each day and cannot open until at least 5 am the following day. Outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery services may continue past 10 pm.

Food or beverage establishments may open, including restaurants, bars, cafeterias, and food courts, as well as all holders of a liquor license with retail consumption privileges.

Establishments must follow appropriate mitigation requirements detailed in the Department of Health’s Protocols for Outdoor Dining, Executive Order No. 157, Executive Order No. 183, the Department of Health’s Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining, Executive Order No. 192, and Executive Order No. 194, which are summarized below.

Restaurant operating hours are currently not limited by any State order. However, effective November 12, food and beverage establishments must close their indoor operations tothe public from 10 pm to 5 am each day. Casinos must stop food beverage service between 10 pm and 5 am, and retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses must prohibit consumption of food or beverages indoors between 10 pm and 5 am. This restriction on hours of operation will not apply to indoor dining in airports in New Jersey.

Mask Requirement

Under Executive Order No. 192, all employees, customers, and visitors must wear a face covering while on the premises, except when an individual is under two years of age or where it is impractical like when eating, drinking, or receiving a service that cannot be completed while wearing a mask.

Employees, customers, and visitors who refuse to wear a face covering may be declined entry, except when doing so would violate State or federal law and provided the employer complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination where applicable.

Employers may permit employees to remove their face covering when they are at their workstation at least six feet from others or alone in a walled space such as an office, or if it would create an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task (i.e. cooks that work near open flames). Employers must provide face coverings to their employees.

For more details and exemptions, refer to page 4 of Executive Order No. 192.

What to Expect at Outdoor Restaurants and Bars

The following summarizes some of the protocols contained in DOH ED 20-019, EO 157, EO 192, and EO 194 However, this summary is not a replacement for fully complying with the terms of DOH ED 20-019, EO 157, EO 192, and EO 194 and businesses should read the full guidance carefully to ensure full compliance.

Establishments must institute the following policies:

  • Limit seating to a maximum of 8 customers per table – unless from an immediate family or the same household – and arrange
  • seating to achieve a minimum distance of 6 feet between parties;
  • Encourage reservations for greater control of customer traffic;
  • Cordon off any indoor or outdoor dance floors to the public;
  • Require customers to provide a phone number if making a reservation to facilitate contact tracing;
  • Consider alternatives to paper/physical menus (whiteboards, electronic menus);
  • Provide a hand sanitizer station for customers; and
  • Require customers who wish to enter the indoor portion of the establishment to wear a face covering, unless the customer has a medical reason for not doing so or is a child under two years of age;
  • Require that groups stay 6 feet apart, even in areas where groups are not assigned seating;
  • Adhere to all other health and safety protocols in DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019.

Note: Areas with a fixed roof, if two sides are open, comprising over 50% of their total wall space, may operate under rules for outdoor dining under Executive Order No. 163.

Effective Thursday, November 12, individual, fully enclosed dining bubbles – limited to one group of diners each – may be set-up for outside use, subject to health and safety protocols outlined in EO 194 and DOH ED 20-019.

What to Expect at Indoor Restaurants and Bars

The following summarizes some of the protocols contained in DOH’s Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining, EO 183, EO 192, and EO 194. However, this summary is not a replacement for fully complying with the terms of the health and safety standards , EO 183, EO 192, and EO 194, and businesses should read the full guidance carefully to ensure full compliance.

Food and beverage establishments must:

  • Limit the number of patrons in indoor areas to 25 percent of the food or beverage establishment’s indoor capacity, excluding the food or beverage establishment’s employees;
  • Limit seating to a maximum of eight (8) customers per table (unless they are from a family from the same household) and arrange seating to achieve a minimum distance of six feet (6 ft) between parties; effective Thursday, November 12, tables may be placed closer than 6 feet, but only if they are separated by dividing barriers;
  • Require customers to only consume food or beverages while seated;
  • Require patrons to wear face coverings while inside the indoor premises of the food or beverage establishment, except when eating or drinking at their table;
  • For food or beverage establishments with table service, require that customers be seated in order to place orders;
  • For food or beverage establishments with table service, require that wait staff bring food or beverages to seated customers; and
  • Keep doors and windows open where possible and utilize fans to improve ventilation.
  • Per Executive Order No. 183, smoking, including vaping, is permitted indoors only when otherwise permitted by State law.
  • Effective Thursday, November 12, barside seating will prohibited at all hours.
  • Effective Thursday, November 12, all restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounges that serve food and drink must close their indoor premises for business by 10 pm each day and cannot open until at least 5 am the following day.

Requirements to Protect Employees and Others

Employers must comply with the following requirements:

  • Require workers and customers to maintain at least six feet of distance from one another, to the maximum extent possible;
  • Provide approved sanitization materials for employees and visitors at no cost to those individuals;
  • Ensure that employees practice hand hygiene and provide employees with sufficient break time for that purpose;
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all high-touch areas in accordance with DOH and CDC guidelines;
  • Prior to each shift, conduct daily health checks, such as temperature screenings, visual symptom checking, self-assessment checklists, and/or health questionnaires, consistent with CDC guidance;
  • Do not allow sick employees to enter workplace and follow requirements of applicable leave laws;
  • Promptly notify employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite; and
  • Clean and disinfect the worksite in accordance with CDC guidelines when an employee at the site has been diagnosed with COVID-19 illness.

Full dining guidance for food and beverage establishments can be found in Executive Order No. 157, DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019, Executive Order No. 183, the Department of Health’s Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining, Executive Order No. 192, and Executive Order No. 194.

Additionally, a special ruling by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) temporarily permits establishments with liquor licenses to expand their licensed premises into outdoor areas. Permits can be extended through the end of March 2021 for a nominal $10 fee. To learn more, refer to the NJ ABC’s special ruling or ABC’s COVID-19 update page.

For additional information on COVID-19’s impact on businesses and mitigation requirements for businesses, please visit the State of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Business Information Hub.

Sources: Executive Order No. 150, Executive Order No. 157, ABC Special Ruling 2020-10, DOH Executive Directive No. 20-019; Executive Order No. 158; Executive Order No. 163; Executive Order No. 183, DOH Health and Safety Standards for Indoor Dining; Executive Order No. 192; Executive Order No. 194