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Boston restaurants can get emergency approval to add outdoor seating once they're allowed to re-open for diners

The Boston Licensing Board this morning approved an emergency measure under which restaurants can put seating outside once the city lifts the ban on in-restaurant dining, to deal with new Covid-19 restrictions that will shrink their indoor seating capacity.

The board unanimously approved a pandemic-related regulation under which restaurants can apply for new outdoor seating once the city lifts the ban on in-restaurant dining. Unlike with other major seating modifications, the owners will not have to first meet with neighborhood groups and schedule a public hearing, a process which can often take weeks to arrange, but instead simply file an application that the board will act on at its regular weekly meetings.

"Restaurants have really been suffering" and the board will do whatever it can to help them during the pandemic, board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said. She said she found that in addition to helping protect the health and safety of diners, the new measure, by giving restaurant owners a way to continue to make money will help protect "the livelihood of our neighborhoods."

The approvals for the new outdoor seating will last as long as the current public-health emergency, which Walsh has yet to give any indication will end anytime soon.

In a statement, Mayor Walsh added:

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.

Walsh said 147 restaurants across the city have already expressed interest in expanding outdoors. He said the city is still working out the details of just how patio approval will work, but said it could vary from neighborhood to neighborhood: Hanover Street in the North End is not Washington Street in Roslindale.

As one possible example, he said that for a restaurant that wants to add seating but which is on a relatively narrow sidewalk, the city might carve a "parklet" out of the parking space or spaces out front to allow for tables and chairs. Roslindale Square has had one such seating area for several summers now on Cohasset Street, next to the Fornax bakery.

The board also voted to rescind a regulation that requires restaurants with alcohol licenses and patios to only serve alcohol outdoors to patrons who also order food. Joyce said that's a relic of past administrations that the current board has never enforced, and will also further help suffering restaurant owners.

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Comments

The outdoor seating stays everywhere after COVID gets contained, because nobody's actually really bothered by it, and the quality of life thing that we could and should have had the whole (expletive) time finally gets to exist only after a few hundred Bostonians die for it.

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outdoor seating stays ...after a few hundred Bostonians die for it.

Are you deranged?!

People died
- because we didn't know enough
- because nursing homes aren't up to handling this
- because POTUS is vindictive, short attention span, narcissistic idiot
- because they selflessly put themselves in harm's way to serve others

NOBODY anywhere died for sidewalk dining,
Nobody died for lack of it.
Nobody died because they couldn't avoid it. Nobody laid down their life for the cause.

Idiot

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on the sidewalk.

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Will more likely be three blocks away calling 311 because she can sort of hear people having fun whilst she is trying to focus on Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

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black BMW is yours after one too many toasts of Dom Perignon, but then relief once you drink some red bull and realize you Uber'd from "Sow-thee".

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Becky LOVES drinking outside in the sunshine.

Karen's the subtle racist / fun-hater / neighborhood watcher.

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I don't get it... must be too old for your hipster references. Becky refers to what?

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easily triggered UHub anon's.

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I take offense at that!!!!

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Umm, okay. No explanation, but thanks anyways?

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Becky's what are easily triggered?

UHub anon's what?

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Sorry, I'm nearly 50. I was sincerely asking.

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Kinda clear.

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You really should stop trying now.

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Rosmuc is country village that is 36 miles west of Galway. I'm sure that members of his extended family occasionally hop Bus Eireann into town or drive in through Costelloe and Spiddal to this gem of a city.

Galway has a Boylston Street level of liquor license density. Galway's main drag; Shop Street which rolls into Quay Street is as about as narrow as Hanover Street and then about as narrow as Prince Street. It is all pedestrian all day save for delivery trucks.

Most of the bars have some sort of outdoor seating where you can drink a pint only or have a pint and food. It is a fun and vibrant place and I'm sure some members of today's forms of the Watch and Ward society would look aghast or advocates for the disabled might be slightly annoyed with the pavers, but the system works.

This way of doing things is also true for a hell of a lot of other European cities. Most of Rick Steeves is showing people getting drinks on a patio in the street and guess what, everything is ok.

People say Boston is the most European of American cities. Let's try a wee amount of European effort this summer to help places out.

Does Harrison Avenue really need to be two lanes going north between East Berkeley and Herald? Could the Franklin Café and Kava take a few spots on Shawmut? Could the Banshee or the Bowery get a few bits of space on Dot Ave? Could we just shut down Hanover Street and Prince Street altogether for the summer between Cross and Fleet? Yup.

Be not afraid. Do it. It's ok.

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Rather than "Do it", let's recommend "Try it". Summer is the perfect time to experiment due to generally less traffic and resident parking demand, anyway.

Does Harrison Avenue really need to be two lanes going north between East Berkeley and Herald? Could the Franklin Café and Kava take a few spots on Shawmut? Could the Banshee or the Bowery get a few bits of space on Dot Ave? Could we just shut down Hanover Street and Prince Street altogether for the summer between Cross and Fleet? Yup.

Be not afraid. Do it. It's ok.

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I don't watch Star Wars but even I know there's a Yoda quote for this.

"Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try."

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Mr. Adams call your committee together -- thee art needed at once!

How can the Boston Licensing Board --- manage in the same pronouncement to take two steps forward and then back-track about 1.95 steps

restaurants can apply for new outdoor seating once the city lifts the ban on in-restaurant dining. Unlike with other major seating modifications, the owners will not have to first meet with neighborhood groups and schedule a public hearing......"Restaurants have really been suffering" and the board will do whatever it can to help them during the pandemic, board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said..... The board also voted to rescind a regulation that requires restaurants with alcohol licenses and patios to only serve alcohol outdoors to patrons who also order food.

Come on -- have some Cojones [or the female version there of... Ovarijones?]-- Mayor Walsh won't allow indoor dining until there is a vaccine or a complete suite of approved therapeutics... we are talking a minimum of November 2022!

NO -- the correct response is to the current COVID-19 shutdown induced calamity -- In lieu of Indoor Dining -- all places now serving take-out, or delivery of food, and any places licensed to serve food which are currently closed -- may hereby open up any kind of outdoor dining provided that they don't block the public ways

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Why not let them apply now so the plan can be approved prior to opening day? This way the restaurant can have what they need and make adjustments required by the City in advance. It will also help the City see where the need is to expand sidewalks into the street to accommodate restaurants and pedestrians, where possible. Waiting to apply on opening day just creates needless delays.

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I know a couple local restaurant owners and they got applications earlier this week from the city to apply for outdoor seating. So I think that part of the article might be misstating it or perhaps the board chair did. But sounds like it's already happening.

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Sorry if I made it sound like they couldn't. What I was trying to say was that they can apply now, they just can't open their patios now (since restaurants are still limited to takeout and delivery).

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The silver lining to this pandemic has been the relaxing of silly laws like these. Shame it took a pandemic to allow people to have a patio beer without spending $20 on an appetizer but I applaud the change. Hopefully it will stick around after this all passes.

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I think one of the reasons for the 'food has to be ordered w/ alcohol on patios' rule is bc of the issue of people driving drunk back to the 'burbs.

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Why though? You can have ten beers at the bar without ordering a morsel of food so what makes the patio special? Also doesn't make sense in the world of beer gardens that don't have the sake requirements.

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So instead they can drive drunk and engorged?

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this includes keeping sidewalks (or wherever one is going to walk, perhaps the street) wide enough to distance.

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This seems backwards. They should be able to open outdoor seating before indoor.

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You're correct but this stopped being about the science a long time ago, if it ever was. Don't worry, Marty publicly says we only have about eight months of restrictions left. It's probably closer to six months to a full reopening or more precisely, the day after the election. The average age of Covid death in MA is 82. For those healthy under age 60 there is almost no risk. Most states have reopened with no problem. So this is strictly Democrat and RINO political theater at this point, maximum economic damage to hamstring President Trump.

Marty will reopen Boston when Biden's handlers tell him it's best politically. Don't forget that lonely walk Marty and Joe Biden took together in the shadow of the federal courthouse last year. This is when it appeared future federal pardons may be needed for some of Marty's administration. Marty has long admitted he is thisclose to Biden. If you think the decision on when to reopen Boston is being made at Boston City Hall or even in MA, think again.

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Biden is winning Massachusetts either way so your deranged theories are ...deranged.

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Stop masking your tired, ignorant political screeds in a pretense of science. This one is nearly as ridiculous as your "sunshine = vitamin D" laugher.

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