NJABC Extends Time Period for COVID-19 Expansion Permit

On October 19, 2020, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Division”) issued a new special ruling (the “October Special Ruling”) that allows the currently issued COVID-19 Expansion of Premises Permit (“COVID-19 Expansion Permit”) to be extended to March 31, 2021. We previously discussed the Division’s special ruling issued on June 3, 2020 (the “June Special Ruling”) that coincided with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 150, which allowed licensees or permittees with on-premises retail consumption privileges to reopen and serve patrons in “outdoor areas.” The COVID-19 Expansion Permit established through the June Special Ruling allowed licensees and permittees to expand their licensed premises into outdoor areas, either contiguous or non-contiguous to their permanently licensed premises. Applications for an extension of the COVID-19 Expansion Permit will be available later this month and must be submitted no later than November 23, 2020.

The June Special Ruling originally set the expiration of the COVID-19 Expansion Permit as November 30, 2020. However, due to the continuing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the alcoholic beverage industry, and the continued requirements for indoor capacity limits and social distancing, the Division found it appropriate to allow licensees to apply to renew the COVID-19 Expansion Permits. The Division noted that, to date, it has issued more than 2,300 COVID-19 Expansion Permits. The Division has now created a renewal process that will allow the COVID-19 Expansion Permit to be extended until March 31, 2021.

To apply for the renewal, licensees must use the online licensing POSSE system and pay a $10 processing fee. A licensee must continue to comply with all current COVID-19 measures and advise the Division if it intends to modify the location of the permitted premises to an indoor area that is contiguous or non-contiguous to its licensed premises. To use the COVID-19 Expansion Permit for an indoor area, the licensee must have authorization from the property owner to use the space, the municipal issuing authority must approve the new location, and the licensee must comply with all indoor capacity and other safety requirements established by Executive Orders and/or the New Jersey Department of Health.

Each application will also need to include information as to any proposed changes to the location or operation hours of the expanded premises, including a sketch or photograph of any new location and revised method of operation, if applicable. The application requires proof of owner authorization and acknowledgment from the licensee that it has reviewed all applicable state and local safety, fire, building, and social distancing guidelines and will operate the expanded premises in accordance with those guidelines. Further, endorsement by the Chief Administrative Official of the municipality in which the licensed premises is located and the Chief Law Enforcement Official with jurisdiction are required. These officials, and the municipality, state agency, or political subdivision, will review the application and documents submitted through POSSE and endorse or deny the application.

Applications will be available on or about October 30, 2020 and must be completed and submitted through POSSE by Monday, November 23, 2020. Failing to renew within this time will force a permit holder to cease alcohol sales in the permitted area until it applies for and receives a new permit.

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