NORTH WILDWOOD — Lessons were learned in this city's first week offering special areas to drink alcohol sold "to go."

An executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy allowing bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages and cocktails "to go" has created a conundrum for North Wildwood visitors: When and where can you eat and drink what you've ordered?

To prevent visitors from taking their alcoholic drinks on the road, North Wildwood mayor Patrick Rosenello designated certain areas in the city's commercial districts where alcohol could be consumed. Restaurants were also allowed to put chairs and tables placed near the bars and restaurants.

But the state had a problem with that part of the plan, Rosenello told the Townsquare News Network. Sit-town dining remains prohibited under an executive order meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, though Gov. Phil Murphy has signaled outdoor dining might be allowed soon.

"The tables and chairs on the public sidewalk being placed by the restaurants is what the (state) Attorney General's office clarified to the county prosecutor, who clarified to us, they felt was in violation of the executive order," Rosenello said.

"Presumably, by what they stated, if the city had put the table and chairs out that would be permissible, and obviously people are allowed to stand and eat and consume," Rosenello said.

The designated area worked out "great," according to the Republican mayor, and the restaurants and bars removed their tables.

"It absolutely did what we anticipated it would do, which is it kept the open consumption to approved areas," Rosenello said.

Many of the bars and restaurants don't have an outside area, so they'll need to use public property, the mayor said. The areas they use will need to be fenced in and have specif delineations, Rosenello said.

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