While California restaurants and bars are preparing for the reopening of their dining rooms, they are also taking steps to expand onto streets and other public spaces. Businesses will be able to use adjacent sidewalks, parking lots and alleyways as outdoor dining areas. These measures come as a way to support local restaurants and small businesses while minimizing the spread of Covid-19.
Keep in mind that it’s not as straightforward as moving your dining table and chairs onto the street. Businesses still need to meet a list of requirements in order to obtain a temporary permit. Cities and counties throughout the state are creating their own guidelines for this temporary use of public spaces. For example, portions of the sidewalk must still be accessible for pedestrians and restaurants must submit a site plan of the intended area with the application.
With social distancing measures still in place, expanding outdoors will certainly help smaller outlets increase occupancy. However, outdoor dining will still be susceptible to weather conditions such as wind and rain. Restaurants might need to invest in outdoor umbrellas and waterproof furniture. And keeping the outdoor area clean and hygienic will also pose a challenge for businesses.
While some areas such as Sacramento and Napa have already begun allowing restaurants to seat diners outside their venue, other counties are not far behind. San Francisco and San Jose have recently unveiled plans to follow suit.
Of course, restaurants won’t be expanding their seating onto sidewalks until they are allowed to resume dine-in service which also requires that state and local stay at home orders be lifted. None-the-less, with restaurants and bars among the hardest hit by Covid-19, this positive news is something business owners can look forward to.