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City of Boston increasing outdoor seating for restaurants

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Published by:

Licensing Board

The City has received close to 500 requests for temporary extension onto outdoor space, and already more than 200 businesses have received full or conditional approval to expand their outdoor space to serve patrons

Building on Boston's commitment to support the City's small businesses, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the City of Boston Licensing Board today announced increased outdoor seating for restaurants in Boston. The City's Licensing Board, in conjunction with the Public Improvement Commission, Transportation Department, and other agencies, have undertaken a temporary, non-precedent setting initiative to allow for expanded use of public spaces for outdoor dining. 

The City has received close to 500 requests for temporary extension onto outdoor space, and already more than 200 businesses have received full or conditional approval to expand their outdoor space to serve patrons. The Board is actively issuing approvals for temporary extensions on private and public property, and applications will continue to be reviewed and approved on a rolling basis. Applications and guidance are available on Boston.gov, the Licensing Board has been conducting outreach throughout Boston's neighborhoods to encourage restaurants to apply for this program. 

"Boston is committed to a safe, phased reopening process," said Mayor Walsh. "That includes helping our small businesses open safely and successfully, and we've been working wherever we can to remove barriers and provide new opportunities. The restaurant industry has been incredibly impacted by this global pandemic, and we've made helping the small businesses that make our neighborhoods and city so special a priority during this time."

New outdoor dining spaces are moving forward this week, from Luna's in East Boston; to M&M Barbeque in Dorchester. The Board is actively working with establishments across the City to finalize approvals for restaurants including Dudley Cafe in Roxbury to Tawakal Halal Cafe in East Boston to Blue Nile Restaurant in Jamaica Plain. Outdoor restaurant dining in the North End will be finalized later week, as special considerations are given to the density of the restaurants within the North End. 

If restaurants have applied and received approval, they can begin outdoor service on their property, or in the public parking spaces outside their establishment, immediately. Those outdoor spaces can remain open until 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends. 

Outdoor restaurant tables must be minimum 6 feet away, and tables can't seat more than 6 people. Workers must wear masks, and patrons must wear masks until they are seated at their tables. In the State of Massachusetts' regulations around reopening, Phase 2 began on Monday, June 8th, and allowed for outdoor restaurant seating. Indoor restaurant dining is not yet allowed under State guidelines.

The Board, Boston Transportation Department, Inspectional Services Department, Public Improvement Commission, and Public Works Department  will waive fees for the approved use of outdoor space for this program, on both public and private property, on a temporary, non-precedent setting basis. The Licensing Board last month also voted to lift citywide the preexisting condition of "alcohol with food only" on outdoor space or any other similar condition that prohibits the sale and service of alcohol on outdoor space without the service of a food item. 

These new protocols are part of the Walsh Administration's ongoing work to support small businesses during this challenging time. On May 26, Mayor Walsh announced $6 million in new debt-free grants to support the safe and healthy reopening of small businesses in Boston, continuing the City of Boston's commitment to provide rapid, equitable, and transparent relief to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will help qualified small businesses implement the necessary public health measures required to reopen safely.  In total, the City of Boston has provided over $13.5 million in City, federal, and private funding to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. 

To further assist the City's small businesses, the City of Boston has created a new platform to help businesses source the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies they will be required to have available in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers as industries begin to reopen. Along with industry-specific reopening requirements, the page includes a list of self-identified, local suppliers of PPE and cleaning supplies, information on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' vendor database, and partner organizations helping to connect businesses with vendors.

As business owners, employers, and employees navigate an evolving COVID-19-related assistance landscape, the Economic Development Office has created a Federal Assistance GuideFinancial Relief Handbook and FAQ document, all of which are continuously updated. 

The City of Boston has created a number of useful guides and resources for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the Commonwealth's Non-Essential Services and 'Stay At Home' Order. The Open Businesses in Boston and Support Boston Restaurants platforms have helped businesses to publicly share that they are open and direct residents into supporting local establishments. The above resources and more industry-specific guidance are accessible on boston.gov/small-business. For all coronavirus updates from the City of Boston, please visit boston.gov/coronavirus.