The Coronavirus pandemic has walloped the entire world, and New Jersey remains an outlier of confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. While statistics continue to trend downwards, reopening New Jersey is going to be a long and stretched out process. 

For the first time since New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that all restaurants and diners would have to close indefinitely, we finally know what life is going to be like working (and going to) a restaurant or diner after the pandemic is over. 

The New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association has put together an extensive plan for eating establishments in the state to reopen their doors while mitigating the spread of Coronavirus. 

It is crucial to understand that this plan was created solely by the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association, which is entirely independent of the Murphy Administration. Some parts of this plan have been dismissed by Murphy already. 

Murphy has not approved two of the three stages, but it is possible that they were not approved because of the intended dates overlapping with an executive order that is expected to remain in place until early June. 

The first two stages of the plan were not approved by Governor Murphy but called for eating and drinking establishments, which includes limited and full-service restaurants to reopen with strict restrictions enforced by health officials until May 15th. The last stage would allow all eating establishments to open business as usual, with no or limited patron count and/or seating plans. 

The Murphy administration will likely also deny the final stage because of the recent extension of an executive order. However, these guidelines are a good glimpse into what staff and guests will have to go through when eateries finally open. 

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Staff Guidelines: 

 - At least one manager per shift that is ServSafe certified (food safety). 

 - Mandate that all staff members to be certified as a food handler. 

 - Mandate guest-facing staff to wear masks. 

 - Train all employees of the importance of frequent hand washing, the use of hand sanitizers with at-least 60% alcohol content, and give them explicit instruction to avoid touching their hands and face. 

 - All staff required to report any fever or illness to the supervisor. 

 - Any sick employees are prohibited from the workplace and may only return after the employee self isolates for seven days from the onset of symptoms and be symptom-free for three days without medication.

Guest Guidelines: 

 - Post a sign on the door that no one with a fever or cough is to be permitted in the restaurant. 

 - Limit the number of customers in the restaurant to comply with proper social distancing guidelines. 

 - Seating to be limited to no more than eight guests per table. 

 - Tables, chairs, and bars to be cleaned and sanitized after every use. 

 - Common areas and high customer contact areas (i.e., door entrances) to be cleaned and sanitized at least once per hour. 

 - Restrooms to be checked regularly (cleaned and sanitized) based on the frequency of use. 

 - Place settings, utensils, and menus to become either single-use or cleaned/sanitized after every use. 

 - Condiments are not to be left alone on the table. Instead, they are to be provided upon request and cleaned after usage. Condiment packets should be used instead of reusable bottles. 

 - Drink refills shall be in clean/unused glass/cups. 

 - Lemons and unwrapped straws to be removed from self-service drink stations. 

 - Hand sanitizer or washing stations upon exits/entrances. 

 - Require the installment of specific equipment or markings, such as tape on the floor in checkout lines for a limited-service ordering eatery. 

While Governor Murphy has yet to release any instructions on reopening eating establishments in the state, this is a good indication of the restrictions that will be in place when that day comes. 

You can see the full plan, here.

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