Hoboken establishes new safety regulations

Local eateries face sidewalk cafe revocation for non compliance

Mayor Ravi Bhalla issued an executive order with new safety regulations business must follow for outdoor dining at local establishments to protect patrons during COVID-19.
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Mayor Ravi Bhalla issued an executive order with new safety regulations business must follow for outdoor dining at local establishments to protect patrons during COVID-19.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla has signed an executive order establishing new safety regulations for bars and restaurants with outdoor dining after the city received feedback from residents, business owners, and customers regarding social distancing and some establishments not enforcing face mask wearing by employees.

The new regulations include requirements of face masks for customers waiting for entry into an establishment or outdoor area, the prohibition of “to go” alcoholic beverages for those waiting for entry, the requirement that customers must be seated when consuming food or beverages, and other measures.

“The City of Hoboken is proud to assist our small business owners with creative and innovative ways to expand outdoor operations,” said Mayor Bhalla. “I’m glad the majority of business owners [are] taking the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of both customers and employees.

“At the same time, based on feedback we’ve received, we are implementing additional safety measures that further protects our City and addresses overcrowding and social distancing issues that we’ve seen at a handful of establishments. I’m confident that these added precautions, along with the continued partnership of the City and our small businesses, will lend to a safer experience for everyone.”

Mayor Bhalla said that primarily the city received complaints regarding certain dining establishments not properly distancing chairs and tables six feet apart from other chairs and tables.

“Another complaint we are receiving is that when waiting for tables, restaurants are allowing residents to wait indoors at the business,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “This is not permitted as per the State’s Executive Order. Anyone waiting for a table should remain outdoors and six feet from other people waiting and other diners. Additionally, to clarify rules for sidewalks – with an outdoor expansion, restaurants should still allow for six feet of egress for pedestrians, and the paths should be straight and clear of obstruction.”

New regulations

According to the executive order, all businesses must require any patrons waiting for entry into an establishment or outdoor seated area to wear face masks, and social distance at least six feet from others, although face masks do not need to be worn when seated at an outdoor café.

No business is permitted to serve ‘to go’ drinks to standing patrons while waiting for a table and capacity of an outdoor café, outdoor sidewalk café, or any other outdoor area is limited to the number of seats available as approved by the city’s zoning office, according to the order.

Additionally, the order states that only patrons who are seated can be served, and everyone must be seated while consuming beverages or food.

All servers are also required to wear a face mask and gloves, with the face mask covering both the mouth and nose, according to the order.

The order also reminds business owners that all tables and chairs must be six feet apart, measured from the back of a chair with a seated patron, to the back of a chair at an adjacent table with a patron seated.

Warned and revoked

Mayor Bhalla said he personally spoke with several business owners who are working to mitigate some of the social distancing issues and noted that the city will continue to work cooperatively with them as they implement these new safety regulations but that if they are not followed, there could be consequences.

According to the executive order the Office of Emergency Management, Zoning Office, and Police Department can provide verbal warnings to establishments that are not compliant with the above safety regulations.

If they are still in violation they will be issued a written warning and the warning can also take the part of a ticket issued by police for the public consumption of alcohol on an establishment’s property.

Should they still be non compliant after the written warning, the establishment will be subject to having the sidewalk café or expanded sidewalk café revoked or closed by the Office of Emergency Management for a period of time to be determined by the enforcing department.

Residents can email businessrecovery@hobokennj.gov about social distancing concerns at local businesses.

To report face mask violations at businesses, residents can email covid19@hobokennj.gov.

A copy of the executive order can be read at https://tinyurl.com/safetyexecorder

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.