New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signs legislation extending outdoor dining until 2024

HADDONFIELD, NJ (WPVI) — Restaurants and bars in New Jersey are celebrating Wednesday after Phil Murphy signed legislation extending al fresco dining through November 2024. It was originally scheduled to expire later this year.

“Ultimately, supporting the success of our small businesses means supporting the success of our communities. Continuing this successful practice will not only benefit small business owners, but also the many repeat guests who have come to enjoy the atmosphere and al fresco dining opportunities,” Murphy said.

El Nopalito in Haddonfield opened in September 2019. It is said that al fresco dining served as a lifeline.

“It really helped us because like I said, we didn’t eat inside, and the food stalls and outdoor seating really helped us during COVID-19,” said waitress Maria Palillero.

The governor says he’s allowing restaurants to continue using tents, umbrellas, tables and chairs outside to support small businesses and the community. Officials say the move will allow for restaurants that are still struggling to stay afloat and keep employees on the payroll.

“When COVID-19 struck, we only ate outside. We’ve probably loved eating out three times already,” said Joel Lomurno of Moorestown.

Central Taco and Tequila in Haddon Township turned its parking lot into a 35-table outdoor patio during the height of the pandemic. They say it’s going nowhere.

“I think number one, it gives a lot of people the option, if they’re not comfortable with it, to sit inside and feel close. It gives them the opportunity to be outside. I think people just like eating out here,” said manager Eric Weiss.

Restaurant advocates are also celebrating this news. They say al fresco dining allows for increased capacity and reduces wait times.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All rights reserved. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signs legislation extending outdoor dining until 2024

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