New Jersey Towns Could OK Street Drinking, Sidewalk Sales

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -
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New Jersey towns could close off streets and allow bars, restaurants and other businesses to allow eating, drinking and retail sales on roadways and sidewalks during the coronavirus outbreak under a bill before lawmakers.

The measure would allow towns to close off a street one or more days a week between Thursday and Sunday, and restrict it to pedestrian access. The measure has already passed the state Senate, and was advanced in an Assembly committee on Wednesday.

Bars and restaurants could move tables onto sidewalks or into roadways to serve food and alcoholic beverages to patrons, who would still be required to observe social distancing and use personal protective equipment, to be enforced by the municipality.

Businesses would have to sign an agreement holding the municipality harmless for any claims arising from the activity. The proposal comes as several towns have already taken advantage of permission from the state to allow consumption of alcoholic beverages in specified outdoor areas, including Atlantic City, Cape May and North Wildwood.

A look at other developments:

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THE NUMBERS

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy reported Wednesday that there were 47 deaths from the virus overnight, putting the death toll from COVID-19 at 12,769. There were also 330 more positive test, putting the overall number of cases at about 168,000, Murphy said.

Murphy also said the rate the disease is spreading remains among the lowest in the country, along with the so-called spot positivity rate, which measures the percentage of people who test positive.