Atlantic City will loosen open container restrictions in some spots starting Friday, allowing residents and visitors to walk the Boardwalk and a few other areas with take-out alcoholic beverages.
After closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, bars and restaurants were hurting, though recent changes - including Gov. Phil Murphy lifting the state stay-at-home order Tuesday - may improve things. Outdoor dining can resume June 15.
Mayor Marty Small Sr. said his executive order bringing the change will be a shot in the arm for the businesses that lost out in the spring closures.
“We’re trying to bring our economy back…help our bars and restaurants,” Small said in a news conference on the Boardwalk that was streamed on Facebook Live.
The open container laws will only be lifted in these spots:
- A roughly 2-mile stretch on the Boardwalk, between Sovereign Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue.
- Within the "Orange Loop" bound by Tennessee Avenue, New York Avenue, Pacific Avenue and the Boardwalk
- The non-residential areas of Gardner's Basin
- At special events with a permit
Anyone with an open container outside those areas will face the normal fines and penalties.
Businesses in or next to the "open container zones" that want to sell alcohol will have to abide by restrictions, including limiting customers to one 16-ounce drink per transaction, clearly marking the drink to show where it came from, and posting signs that define the new rules.
They will also have to register to sell in the zones, and add the city and officials into their liability insurance.
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City police will not allow customers to consume alcohol in a vehicle, and any business found violating the order risks fines, the loss of their business license, or criminal prosecution.
Small said he was aware of some possible reservations about the plan. Deputy Police Chief James Sarkos said he was confident there were adequate safeguards in place.
The order will expire in November or when coronavirus-related occupancy limits are lifted, whichever date is later.
“We’re here to support you," Small said, referring to business owners.
We know it’s been a tough road, and this is something that no one could have predicted.”