ASSEMBLY, No. 5133






Sponsored by:


District 6 (Burlington and Camden)


District 31 (Hudson)

Assemblyman  DANIEL R. BENSON

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)


Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Moen, Mazzeo, Assemblywoman Pintor Marin, Assemblymen McGuckin, Catalano, Holley, Thomson, Dancer, Stanley, Calabrese, Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle, Assemblyman Johnson and Assemblywoman Jimenez






     Expands indoor capacity for food or beverage establishments and banquet and wedding venues under certain circumstances during coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.



     Substitute as adopted by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.





An Act concerning indoor consumption of food or beverages during the public health emergency declared in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.


     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


     1.    a. During the public health emergency declared by the Governor in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, any food or beverage establishment, or banquet or wedding venue, in any indoor area on its premises, shall limit the number of customers or patrons served up to:

     (1)   25 percent of the establishment or venue’s capacity if the establishment or venue does not certify as to the measures it is taking in accordance to paragraph (2) of this subsection to mitigate the risks of coronavirus disease 2019; or

     (2)   50 percent of the establishment or venue’s capacity if:

     (a)   the establishment or venue is in a region of the State that is designated by the Department of Health as having a coronavirus disease 2019 activity level of moderate or lower based on the most up to date activity report issued by the Department of Health;

     (b)   the establishment or venue certifies to the county board of health in which the establishment or venue is located that the establishment has:

     (i)    installed barriers of plexi-glass, plastic, or some other material that has been approved by the commissioner between each table;

     (ii)   limited parties dining together to 10 or fewer individuals;

     (iii) provided the county board of health with information on the establishment or venue’s capacity at 100 percent, 50 percent, and 25 percent; and

     (iv)  where there is a presumptive positive or positive case of an employee, guest, visitor, or vendor, shut down immediately to disinfect, notify the county board of health and all employees, guests, visitors, or vendors, while adhering to all confidentiality requirements in accordance with the federal "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990" (42 U.S.C. s.12101 et seq.) and any other applicable laws pertaining to privacy or confidentiality of medical information;

     (c)   the establishment or venue creates and submits a certified coronavirus disease 2019 preparedness plan, in a form created by the Department of Health, to the county board of health, which includes:

     (i)    employee protocols on how to monitor for signs and symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019, including a policy for employees to report their signs and symptoms prior to entering the workplace and for employees to report when they are sick,

     (ii)   a policy on presumptive or actual positive coronavirus disease 2019 cases of any employee, guest, visitor or vendor that requires the business to suspend operations immediately for cleaning and disinfection in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance prior to restarting operations;

     (iii)   an outline of its sick leave policy, including a certification of its compliance with all requirements under the "Family Leave Act," P.L.1989, c.261 (C.34:11B-1 et seq.), the federal "Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993," Pub.L.103-3 (29 U.S.C. s.2601 et seq.), P.L.2018, c.10 (C.34:11D-1 et seq.), P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-25 et seq.), to the extent those laws are applicable, and any other applicable State or federal laws regarding leave;

     (iv)   a policy to ensure adequate social distancing by maintaining a distance of at least six feet between individuals, or groups of individuals, in the establishment or venue, whether the individuals are patrons or employees, to the extent possible;

     (v)   where it is not possible to maintain a distance of six feet between individuals, a policy to erect barriers between individuals, which shall include the type of barrier utilized;

     (vi)   limit to the number of patrons that may be seated together at the same time;

     (vii)    requiring each employee to wash hands immediately after entering the building and frequently throughout the employee’s shift;

     (viii)   the installation of hand-sanitizer dispensers or stations at the entrance of the establishment or venue and in areas throughout the establishment or venue for employees and patrons to be used for hand hygiene in addition to soap and water in restrooms;

     (ix)   requiring masks for all employees who are in direct contact with patrons, making masks available to all employees at no cost to the employees, and requiring masks be worn by all patrons until drinks or meals arrive at the table;

     (x)    ventilation protocols that include the maintenance of all building systems and an ongoing assessment of the amount of fresh air and air recirculation in the establishment or venue, and ensuring that ventilation systems are being properly used;

     (xi)   cleaning and disinfection protocols that identify who is cleaning and disinfecting if there is a presumptive or positive case of coronavirus disease 2019, require that there will be frequent cleaning and disinfecting of all food surfaces, including but not limited to, equipment, including restrooms, high touch areas, meeting rooms, host stations, railings, credit card readers, counters, and menus, and require that tables, chairs, and other shared items will be cleaned and disinfected after each use;

     (xii)  signage protocols to inform customers to remain at least six feet apart while in the establishment or venue, and signage at the entrance with the certification that the establishment or venue has met the requirements of this act is allowed to serve patrons at 50 percent capacity; and

     (xiii) communication and training protocols to ensure that all employees have access to the preparedness plan required under this paragraph and that all employees are properly trained to comply with the preparedness plan;

     (d)   with respect to customers who dine in the establishment or venue and not those who order takeout or delivery from the establishment or venue, the establishment or venue agrees to conduct contact tracing in the event of a presumptive positive case or a positive case, which shall include such preemptive measures as maintaining records of the names and contact information of all persons who enter the establishment or venue; and

     (e)   the establishment or venue certifies that it is in compliance with all other applicable State and federal laws.

     b.      A food or beverage establishment, or banquet or wedding venue, may submit an application to operate at 50 percent capacity indoors at any time to the county board of health, which shall review and determine eligibility to operate at 50 percent capacity within seven days of receipt of the establishment or venue’s application.

     c.     If a region’s activity level of coronavirus disease 2019 increases above moderate as determined in the Department of Health’s “Covid-19 Activity Report,” all establishments or venues within the region shall decrease their indoor operations to a maximum of 25 percent capacity of the establishment or venue’s capacity.

     d.    Any person may report a suspected violation of this act to the appropriate county board of health.  The board of health or county health department to which the violation was reported shall investigate the alleged violation. If it is determined that the establishment  or venue violated the provisions of this act, the county board of health shall have the discretion to reduce the capacity of the establishment or venue to 25 percent until the violation is remediated to the satisfaction of the county board of health.

     e.     The Department of Health shall routinely update and publish its “Covid-19 Activity Level Report” and distribute the report, as updated, to all the county boards of health in a timely manner.

     This department shall post this information on its website and report its findings to each county on a monthly basis.

     f.     Nothing in this act shall be construed to relieve a food or beverage establishment, or a banquet or wedding venue, of any requirement established by any other law or regulation. 

     g.    Notwithstanding the provisions of this act, if the Governor issues an executive order permitting food or beverage establishments, or banquet or wedding venues, to operate at a higher capacity than 25 percent indoors without compliance with the requirements of this act, the requirements of this act shall not prohibit such establishments or venues from operating in accordance with the Governor’s executive order.

     h.    The Commissioner of Health, in consultation with the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development shall establish rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this act.

     i.     As used in this act, and notwithstanding any law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, “food or beverage establishment” includes restaurants, cafeterias, dining establishments, and food courts, with or without a liquor license, bars, and all other holders of a liquor license with retail consumption privileges.


     2.    This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire on the later of:

     (1)  the date of expiration, termination, or rescission of any and all executive or administrative orders issued by the Governor or Commissioner of Health establishing coronavirus-related occupancy or customer seating restrictions applicable to food or beverage establishments or venues; or

     (2)  the first day of the seventh month next following the date on which the Governor declares that the state of emergency has ended.