As the State of New Jersey enters into the second stage of reopening during COVID-19, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 150 on June 3rd giving permission to restaurants and bars to serve their patrons outdoor. “Allowing outdoor dining and the expansion of alcohol-serving areas will allow restaurants and bars to begin welcoming customers back while continuing to comply with necessary social distancing guidance,” said Governor Phil Murphy.  The New Jersey Department of Health issued a number of protocols for establishments intending to implement outdoor dining. However, municipalities are responsible for providing clear guidance on the process and options of expanding outdoor capacity. Across the state, local governments are simplifying application processes and waiving fees for expanding outdoor capacity, thus trying to stimulate recovery of businesses and revitalization of social life while requiring strict health and safety measures by the New Jersey Department of Health. According to these measures, tables must be situated six feet apart with no more than eight persons per table. Keeping a six-foot distance anytime between patrons from different groups and wearing a face mask when away from a table is required. All shared items from tables to pens must be disinfected after each use. Workers must be physically separated from customers whenever possible and checked for COVID-19 symptoms daily.  Atlantic City, Piscataway, Red Bank, and many other municipalities have also added their own directives and regulations with protocols for food and beverage establishments pursuant to the Order on their websites.
Adaptation to the conditions caused by the pandemic entails changes in people’s lifestyles, some of which will lead to a new way of life even after the pandemic. Implementing this Executive Order also calls for changes in the built environment to increase the outdoor capacity of businesses. Consequently, cities and towns across the state are proposing and implementing a variety of ways to expand their outdoor capacity. For example, Hoboken, with its largest concentration of eating and drinking establishments in New Jersey, provides its businesses with several options:
These options accommodate different surrounding conditions and diversify ways in which necessary changes can be implemented.
Other municipalities across the state have launched pilot programs to support safe outdoor activity and recreation for their residents:
Things get more complicated when roads are under the jurisdiction of different levels of government. In those cases, local administration must obtain permission from relevant authorities in order to alter county and state roads. Thus, Somerville officials have petitioned the state to close Main Street (Route 28), a state-owned highway, to traffic on at least some days every week.  Morristown is another example of a municipality attempting to close a street not under their control: “It’s difficult for Morristown [to expand outdoor dining] mainly because our town consists of state and county roads,” said Tim Dougherty, the mayor of Morristown. The state declined Mayor Tim Dougherty’s request to shut down parts of South Street and expand outdoor dining. 
Moving the main activity in food and beverage establishments outdoors intensifies the need for quality public spaces. The measures that are currently being taken are temporary, but they provide us with an opportunity to assess how popular these arrangements will be. Close monitoring of these spaces will allow cities to analyze their effectiveness and viability in the long term. The results of the monitoring should be applied to the future development of the urban environment. The ongoing trend towards urbanization suggests that more people will be living in denser areas, which in turn means a decreasing role of cars and the increasing importance of public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and public spaces. In these circumstances, closing some streets and setting aside parts of streets and parking lots for the needs of bars and restaurants seems to be a promising strategy.
One of the interesting effects of COVID-19 is the change in people’s lifestyle and habits in response to a physical change in the urban environment. The forced prolonged exposure to a relatively new experience might even cause a shift in their preferences. Implementing and observing these changes today is helping cities in moving towards more permanent changes in the future. In this way, COVID-19 has granted cities unprecedented opportunities that stretch far beyond outdoor dining and recreation.
 Office of the governor of The State of New Jersey
 The New Jersey Department of Health
 The City of Hoboken
 The City of Asbury Park
 Schmidt J. (2010). Revisiting Pedestrian Malls.
Image Sources: greatheightsphoto.com, Maxim Gladkiy, Wikimedia Commons, Maxim Gladkiy.