Sarlo Calls for Reduction of Red Tape, Reopening Timetables for Restaurants & Hospitality Businesses
Trenton – To help hospitality businesses such as restaurants, bars, breweries and caterers survive the COVID shutdown and overcome ongoing financial challenges, the state should reduce “red tape” requirements for outdoor service and set dates for indoor re-openings and caterers, Senator Paul Sarlo said today.
Senator Sarlo led a public hearing today by the Senate’s Fiscal Recovery Strategists where the senators working to identify ways to guide an economic recovery heard from owners and operators of restaurants, bars and caterers who spoke about the obstacles to reopening and the challenges to sustained financial health.
“Restaurants, bars and caterers are economically vulnerable businesses that don’t have the financial reserves to survive an extended shutdown or dramatically reduced income,” said Senator Sarlo. “They not only have to struggle to survive the shutdown, they face potential problems in reduced business activity after they reopen. We need to find ways for them to return to business and operate with the safety measures that will protect their workers and customers.”
Restaurants are preparing for the return of outdoor dining on June 15 after three months of pandemic-imposed restrictions that limited them to takeout and delivery service.
Senator Sarlo has introduced legislation, S-2522, to facilitate reopening opportunities for restaurants, bars, and breweries to provide outdoor service during the COVID-19 emergency. The bill allows licensed establishments to extend their liquor licenses with local approval without having to make a separate application and pay a fee to the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which is required by the current executive order.
“The purpose of this bill is to increase economic activity in the local business districts, which have been seriously hurt by the COVID shutdown,” said Senator Sarlo. “We should remove barriers to the reopening of restaurants for outdoor activities by reducing red tape and set dates for indoor service and catering businesses so they can make the plans needed to emerge from the shutdown. Because catered events are planned in advance, they need to know when they can reopen.”
The legislation would permit the governing body of a municipality to close off streets to vehicles to allow local businesses, including restaurants, to “extend their business premises” to serve customers. The sales would include food and alcoholic beverage for consumption at tables owned by restaurants and bars located on the closed streets roads or sidewalks.
“These businesses are important to local communities for the jobs they support, the economic activity they generate and the role they play in local business districts,” said Senator Sarlo. “Many of them are family owned businesses that are an integral part of their communities. We need to do what we can to keep them in business.”
Social distancing practices would have to be followed, including the requirement that tables are placed six feet apart, eight or fewer customers are seated together and employees must wear face coverings and gloves.