Starting on Monday, June 15, the Garden State moves from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the governor's restart and recovery plan, meaning restaurants with outdoor dining space will be allowed to seat customers.

But things will definitely look different than the last time you were there.

Besides social distancing requirements while waiting for a table, sitting at a table and waiting to use a restroom, all New Jersey restaurants will be required to follow an enhanced sanitation protocol including waiters and waitresses being masked. Some may be wearing gloves while others will wash their hands every 30 minutes. Patrons will be required to wear a mask when they arrive to be seated and hand-sanitizer stations will be set up at multiple locations.

Marilou Halvorsen, the president of the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association, said tables have always cleaned but now tables and chairs will get a thorough treatment every time.

Many restaurants may turn to disposable paper menus instead of the laminated ones.

“I do think you’re going to see more disposable single-use items, things like no-contact payments, not waiting inside for your table,” she said.

Halvorsen also noted that servers and set-up staff may be limited to only a few tables rather than several different ones.

“You want to limit the number of people that are coming in contact,” she said.

She stressed this will definitely be a new normal but adhering to strict sanitation standards is nothing new for restaurants.

“A lot of the small restaurants are family owned, so they certainly want to keep the establishment as clean and healthy as possible because they don’t want to expose themselves, their family their employees or anyone,” she said.

Because of increased sanitation costs, some restaurants may add a nominal cleaning fee onto the check, while others may choose to cover that cost by varying the price of some menu items.

Halverson said that with restaurant capacity cut, “if you do have a reservation, don’t be a no-show: Please call and cancel so they can give that table to somebody else.”

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