Reopening small restaurants could mean closing streets to use for outdoor seating

How do you handle seating in small restaurant implementing social distancing guidelines?

To address this issue, the city of Cincinnati will close parts of 25 streets in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown Cincinnati so restaurants can expand outdoor seating, a move that will help restaurants without patio space keep tables farther apart for social distancing – and open as early as possible.

The announcement came one day after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced restaurants can open outdoor space next Friday. Indoor seating isn’t allowed until May 21, and only then with certain precautions. Parties must be seated 6 feet apart or there has to be a physical barrier, for example.
Restaurants and bars have been closed by state order since March 21 in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. It’s put people out of work and shuttered restaurants who opted not to morph into carryouts. “Restaurants are critical to the vibrancy in our urban core,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said. “Shutting down streets and lanes to expand dining so people can come back downtown and get delicious meals will be great.”

Tampa, Florida, announced a similar plan May 5. And cities in San Mateo County in California temporarily restricted traffic beginning late last month in areas so people could safely get together. In Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, many of the restaurants are in small older buildings. The neighborhood, along with Cincinnati’s Downtown, had been enjoying national attending for its vibrant restaurant scene until the pandemic hit.

The plan came together quickly with Cranley reaching out to The Banks restaurants and Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) in Over-the-Rhine about what was needed.

“I knew this would be a desire in light of how small some of the restaurants are,” Cranley said Friday. When he called to offer help, he learned they were already planning to ask. In Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, many of the restaurants are in small older buildings. The neighborhood, along with Cincinnati’s Downtown, had been enjoying national attending for its vibrant restaurant scene until the pandemic hit.

The plan came together quickly with Cranley reaching out to The Banks restaurants and Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) in Over-the-Rhine about what was needed.

“I knew this would be a desire in light of how small some of the restaurants are,” Cranley said Friday. When he called to offer help, he learned they were already planning to ask.

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