NJ issues winter guidelines for outdoor restaurants

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TRENTON, NJ – Restaurants that want to extend their outdoor dining as temperatures cool by using domes or tents to shelter diners have until Monday to file permit applications seeking approval, announced state officials.

New guidelines released late Wednesday by the state’s Department of Community Affairs say restaurants that have tents, bubbles, igloos or other types of “catering domes” for outdoor dining over 120 square feet is subject to the permit requirement of the Uniform Building Codes.

The permit requirement is intended to address concerns about the ability of tents or other structures to withstand the weight of snow or ice, and is applicable from December 1 to March 30, according to information from the Department of Community Affairs. .

Domes and tents under 120 square feet don’t need a permit, according to the guidelines.

“The dome should be capable of being dismantled daily, if necessary, and should be secure, but not anchored, so that it can be easily lifted for emergency evacuation,” the guide says.

Portable heaters used in domes or tents must be approved by the local fire department, per guidelines.

“We recognize that restaurants across our state have been extremely hard hit by the pandemic,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “We are doing everything we can to help these businesses stay afloat until we can get back to more normality.”

“These tips are part of our efforts to help ease the burden this pandemic has placed on dining establishments. We are leaving no stone unturned as we work to help the restaurant community,” Murphy said.

Cities are being asked to suspend permit fees for tents and similar structures for restaurants to ease the stress on establishments as they work to survive, state officials said.

Restaurants will be required to file snow plans with their local building official that would take effect in the event of a forecast weather event that would exceed the ability of the tent or dome to remain safe under the weight of snow.

Establishments must file the CCU permit application and request an amendment, if any, by November 30, 2020. In order to allow sufficient time for the processing of permit and amendment applications, municipalities may grant establishments a extension of two weeks from November 30, 2020. deadline for removing the tent, provided that the establishment has submitted a snow plan with the permit application which will be put into effect in the event of a forecast weather event occurring at the inside the overtime period.

“The Fire Safety Division is constantly evaluating new products and alternative solutions to see if any are acceptable to meet the needs of outdoor dining,” the Department of Community Affairs said. “It is the division’s intention to ensure outdoor dining is done safely and up to code while working with business owners to meet their needs.”

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