As local restaurants reopen their patios for outdoor dining this week following a months-long dine-in ban due to the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Boston announced efforts Wednesday to increase the amount of outdoor seating available.
In a press release, Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston Licensing Board revealed that Boston has received almost 500 requests to temporarily extend seating into an outdoor space; 200 businesses have already been approved for full or conditional outdoor expansion. The Licensing Board is issuing temporary extensions on a rolling basis and, along with the Boston Transportation Department, Inspectional Services Department, Public Improvement Commission, and Public Works Department, has waived fees for the approved use of outdoor space.
“Boston is committed to a safe, phased reopening process,” Walsh said. “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.”
According to the press release, once restaurants are approved, they can immediately begin service in their outdoor space, offering food and drink until 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends. Restaurants may also serve alcohol outdoors without food: In May, the Licensing Board lifted the condition that prohibits the sale and service of alcohol outdoors without the service of food.
While the Licensing Board has already approved temporary extensions in neighborhoods across the city, it is finalizing applications for the North End later in the week, citing the density of the neighborhood as a reason for special consideration.
Since reopening for outdoor dining on Monday, restaurants have been creative in utilizing outdoor space. Kowloon in Saugus and Summer Shack in Cambridge, among others, have expanded into their own parking lots, while Moona in Cambridge set up tables in front of the restaurant and in a neighboring alley.
Restaurants interested in expanding their own outdoor space can find an application and guidance here.