Mayor Walsh announces extension of outdoor dining in Boston

BOSTON (WHDH) - Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Tuesday that the outdoor dining season in Boston will be extended past the original closure date of Oct. 31 “to better support restaurants during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.”

This extension applies to outdoor dining on both public and private property and will last “for the duration of the ongoing COVID-19 related public health emergency,” according to the city.

Restaurants utilizing the Temporary Outdoor Dining Program on public sidewalks and parking lanes may continue the approved use of those spaces until Dec. 1, 2020, weather-permitting or until further notice.

“Restaurants in our neighborhoods represent our culture, community, and innovation,” Walsh said in a statement. “Restaurants have faced incredible challenges during this ongoing public health crisis, and the City of Boston is committed to helping them survive and succeed, including by giving restaurants more flexibility around outdoor dining.”

“We’re going to waive application fees for outdoor dining propane heaters in dining areas. You still need a permit from the fire department but the safety regulations around their use remains 100% in place but the fee will be waived to help restaurants continue to take advantage of outdoor space as long as possible,” Walsh said during the announcement.

Restaurants are allowed to use electric heaters without a permit as long as cords do not cross the sidewalk.

While restaurant owners say they’re grateful to keep their makeshift patios, they say they don’t imagine it being the saving grace it was during the summer.

“The question is will people be willing to sit outside in the cold weather,” Derek Brady, co-owner of Causeway Restaurant, asked. “Regardless of how many heaters you have out here, it’s not easy to heat the outdoors.”

Owners say they’ll still have to rely on small events to scrap their way through and if they do survive, they hope the street dining survives with them.

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