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Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Pandemic’s Legacy May Include Outdoor Dining

By Vince Conti

AVALON – Restaurants were forced outside by the pandemic. The experience is one many don’t want to give up.  

Avalon Borough Council heard plans Sept. 23 to alter existing ordinances, allowing for more outside dining, even in a post-pandemic world. 

Outdoor dining, this year, based on exceptions to state and local laws, was the product of a rushed process this spring when restaurants were forced to close for everything except takeout. Avalon is reviewing that process to have a well-thought-out plan for summer 2021. 

Accommodations across the county included increased flexibility for restaurants to use the public right-of-way space, relaxed open container ordinances, and the state Alcohol and Beverage Commission’s (ABC) willingness to expand the license premises for liquor service. Not all of that is in the purview of local governing bodies, but some of it is, and plans are advancing. 

In Avalon, an effort is underway to draft ordinance changes that would allow this year’s best practices to proceed, while correcting for inevitable shortcomings in policies established quickly in the spring. Much will depend on what the ABC does when it is not relying on a declared health emergency as justification for temporary rules.  

Council was told that draft ordinance changes would be available for consideration soon, with a goal of having new rules in place by next summer.

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