Certain restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries across New Jersey that have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be eligible for additional assistance as many seek to expand indoor and outdoor dining services to customers.
New Jersey will provide $ 35 million in federal COVID-19 assistance to a state-wide struggling food and beverage company with no more than 50 employees, according to laws are signed into law Friday by Governor Phil Murphy.
“Over the past year, our restaurant has done well, and we know that the fight is not easy,” said Murphy. “This law will provide a much needed lifeline for small business owners, who, through no fault of their own, have been destroyed by this pandemic.”
Funding will be distributed through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which will be asked to set rules regarding eligibility and the size of available grants.
State officials say the grants will help food and beverage companies reopen safely amid a public health crisis and help recover previously lost jobs.
That bill passed both state legislative assemblies last month with unanimous bipartisan support.
Among the main sponsors of the law included Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Burlington / Camden) and Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic).
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than 19,000 food and beverage companies across New Jersey, with restaurants employing nearly 8 percent of the workers in our state,” the Assembly’s joint sponsor said in a statement.
“The public health emergency has had a significant impact on this industry, which many of us are benefiting from and enjoying. We must provide support to this company to help them through this crisis and enable them to employ New Jersey residents while continuing to serve residents and visitors for years to come. “
The legislation is part of a five-bill, $ 100 million effort by New Jersey to support small businesses across the state hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Country already dedicates $ 15 million to help arts and cultural institutions across New Jersey persistently amidst a public health crisis.
Since last month, indoor dining service in the restaurant and bar has been allowed on 50% capacity statewide.
Indoor dining continued in New Jersey last September at 25% capacity after being closed for nearly six months. Originally scheduled to be continued early July, but officials postponed plans after the surge in COVID-19 cases in other states that have reopened restaurants.
When COVID-19 cases spiked again last November, Murphy ordered the restaurant to close indoor dining between 10pm and 5am and to limit bar seating. The act also affects clubs, lounges and casinos.
The state later lifted a curfew on indoor dining services and increased the occupancy limit at restaurants to 35%. in February. Bar seating, however, remains banned statewide due to the proximity of customers and staff.
New Jersey allows eat outdoors service since last June. Restaurants across the state looking to expand their outdoor dining services to public spaces and sidewalks has been allowed to do so since February.