In Atlantic City, you can stroll the boardwalk while drinking a beer. The city enacted a new open container ordinance during the pandemic to support bars and restaurants. All New Jersey municipalities may soon be able to do the same.

The state senate has passed a bill that would expand the outdoor consumption of alcohol in all New Jersey towns. Sen. Vin Gopel, D-Monmouth, the bill's sponsor, noted the positive impact the move has had on the hospitality industry in Atlantic City, and by expanding consumption statewide, "Our towns can ease law enforcement challenges and help local businesses continue to rebound as we emerge from the worst of the pandemic."

If enacted, towns would be permitted to designate outdoor areas where adults over the age of 21 could consume alcoholic beverages. How big or small of an area would be up to local officials. Some envision park-like settings or riverside strolls with a glass of wine or a cocktail.

Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex, said locally owned bars and restaurants were among businesses hurt the most by pandemic shutdowns, and this bill "will enable those businesses one more outlet in which to grow" and recover pandemic losses.

While passed by the senate, the bill remains stalled in an assembly committee.

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