Here's How Outdoor Dining Will Work In Chatham

Russ Crespolini

CHATHAM, NJ - The restrictions for dining designed to stem the spread of COVID-19 ease Monday and now patrons will allowed to return to their favorite eateries, albeit with new restrictions and guidelines.

"The Township Committee on Thursday night adopted a resolution to encourage local restaurants to expand outdoor dining onto the sidewalks and, if desired, into the parking lots at Hickory Square and The Chatham Mall," Chatham Township Mayor Mike Kelly said. "Parking restrictions will be relaxed if restaurants and landlords submit plans for safe seating areas that comply with social distance requirements."

According to the new rules bars, restaurants and eateries must:

  • Notify and cooperate with local public health departments, while maintaining confidentiality, if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among employees
  • Obtain all required municipal approvals and permits before offering food and/or beverage consumption at outdoor areas.
  • Prohibit smoking in any outdoor areas designated for the consumption of food and/or beverages.
  • Prevent customers entering the indoor premises of a food or beverage establishment except to walk through in order to access the outdoor area, or to use the restroom
  • Post signage at the entrance that states that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 should enter the food or beverage establishment
  • Limit seating to a maximum of eight customers per table and arrange seating to achieve a minimum distance of 6 feet between parties
  • Rope off or otherwise mark tables, chairs and bar stools that are not to be used.
  • Demarcate 6 feet of spacing in patron waiting areas
  • Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors, sidewalks, and signage on walls to ensure that customers remain at least 6 feet apart in line for the restroom or waiting for seating
  • Eliminate self-service food or drink options such as buffets, salad bars, and self-service drink stations
  • Disinfect all tables, chairs and any other shared items (menus, condiments, pens) after each use
  • Install physical barriers and partitions at cash registers, bars, host stands and other area where maintaining physical distance of 6 feet is difficult
  • Ensure 6 feet of physical distancing between workers and customers, except at the moment of payment and/or when employees are servicing the table
  • Require infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and proper tissue usage and disposal
  • Require frequent sanitization of high-touch areas like credit card machines, keypads, and counters to which the public and workers have access
  • Place conspicuous signage at entrance alerting staff and customers to the required 6 feet of physical distance
  • Require all food or beverage establishments to have an inclement weather policy that, if triggered, would require the food or beverage establishment to offer takeout or delivery service only.

Food or beverage establishments offering service at outdoor areas must impose the following requirements on employees:

  • Require employees to wash and/or sanitize their hands when entering the food or beverage establishment
  • Conduct daily health checks (such as temperature screening and/or symptom checking) of employees safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations
  • Require employees with symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) be sent home
  • Require all employees to wear face coverings, except where doing so would inhibit the individual's health, and require employees to wear gloves when in contact with customers and when handing prepared foods or serving food, utensils, and other items to customers
  • Provide all employees with face coverings and gloves
  • Provide employees break time for repeated hand washing throughout the workday
  • Provide sanitization materials, such as hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to staff.

Food or beverage establishments offering service at outside areas must institute the following policies with respect to customers:

  • Inform customers of the safety measures, such as social distancing and wearing face coverings, when they are away from their table and unable to social distance
  • Inform customers of the safety measures when they are inside the indoor portion of the premises of the food or beverage establishment (unless the customer has a medical reason for not doing so or is a child under two years of age)
  • Adhere to hygiene practices while in the food or beverage establishment
  • Encourage reservations for greater control of customer traffic/volume
  • Require customers to provide a phone number, if they're making a reservation, to facilitate contact tracing
  • Recommend customers wait in their cars or away from the food or beverage establishment while waiting for a table if outdoor wait areas cannot accommodate social distancing
  • Alert customers via calls/texts to limit touching and use of shared objects such as pagers/buzzers
  • Encourage the use of digital menus
  • Decline entry to the indoor portion of the establishment to a customer who is not wearing a face covering, unless the customer has a medical reason for not doing so or is a child under two years of age
  • Provide a hand sanitizer station for customers.

Also opening Monday will be retail stores at for limited indoor shopping. One of the big changes is that stores much limit customers to 50 percent of their shop's capacity, and customers and employees have to wear face coverings.
Here are the other new rules:

  • Stores must regularly sanitize areas used by employees
  • Stores must set special shopping hours for high-risk individuals wherever and whenever possible
  • Stores must erect physical barriers between customers and baggers
  • Stores in malls cannot reopen unless they have an outside entrance

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This article originally appeared on the Chatham Patch