Reopening Information for Restaurants

Following the Governor’s Executive Order, the City of Somerville has developed the following guidelines to ensure a safe opening of restaurants in Somerville for customers, workers and operators by identifying clear standards, processes and timelines to occupy public and private outdoor spaces.

For more information, please contact:

Daniela Carrillo
Economic Development Assistant, OSPCD
[email protected]
617-625-6600 x2546

  • Outdoor Seating

  • Takeout & Indoor Dining

  • Permitting

  • Mayor's Restaurant Reopening Working Group

COVID-19 Outdoor Seating Guidelines & Safety Plan Requirements

1) Review the City of Somerville COVID-19 Outdoor Seating Guidelines and Checklist before submitting an application.

2) Submit an application through CitizenServe for a Licensing Commission License Amendment and attach:

Please note: The Compliance Attestation Poster, Employer Poster, and Worker Poster must be posted in an area that is visible to workers and visitors at all times.

Fall/Winter COVID-19 Guidelines for Outdoor Seating

Outdoor seating licenses have been extended from Nov 1, 2020 to January 11, 2021 and April 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 or until the emergency order is lifted. For those that wish to operate past January 11, 2021, proposals will be reviewed on a case by case basis contingent upon staff approval. 

Submit an application through CitizenServe for a Licensing Commission License Amendment if you wish to add, remove, or change the following:

All applications are subject to approval by staff before installation. Follow the Winter Ready Certification Guidelines & Submittal Requirements and application guidelines for submittal.

COVID-19 Takeout and Indoor Dining Guidelines & Safety Plan Requirements

The City of Somerville has announced that restaurants are allowed to open for indoor service on June 22, 2020, and must follow both the Commonwealth and additional Somerville guidelines.

In order to open for indoor service, you must: 

These documents must be submitted through Citizen Serve as an attachment to your revised Food Establishment License. You may begin operations after submittal. Please remember to print out a copy of these documents and keep them available on premises for State and ISD inspections.

Please note: The Compliance Attestation PosterEmployer Poster, and Worker Poster must be posted in an area that is visible to workers and visitors at all times.

Temporary outdoor seating flow chart for COVID-19

The City commits to an expedited staff review period and more frequent Licensing Commission meetings for all new applications or for existing 4 applications that seek to expand their outdoor dining footprint to open quickly and safely:

  • ❖ All applications from existing outdoor seating permit holders will be fast-tracked, which may allow them to receive permission to open as soon as Wednesday, June 10, 2020, so long as the Licensing Commission License Amendment application is complete and your layout conforms to the new social distancing requirements within the footprint that was previously approved. Priority will be given to existing Somerville outdoor dining license holders.
  • ❖ All new applications for temporary outdoor dining permits and applications which request an expansion of the area of an existing permit can submit a Licensing Commission License Amendment application right away and will be reviewed by staff. These applications will be considered by the Licensing Commission starting on Friday, June 12, 2020, pending City Council decision on June 11, 2020. 
  • ❖ Applications which contemplate a significant expansion of outdoor seating onto public property (closing a street, expanding into a public parking area) will be forwarded to OSPCD staff for consultation and review. As these types of interventions are more complex, it will likely take longer to approve.

The restaurant industry is a vital part of the soul of Somerville. In order to ensure a safe and successful reopening, Mayor Curtatone formed a working group of 26 Somerville restaurant owners and operations, along with City staff, to initiate a collaborative approach to reopening one of Somerville’s most important industries.  The Working Group met to review the Commonwealth’s guidelines and identify areas to tighten up selected guidelines, advised the City on designing a flexible process for permitting outdoor dining and developed a set of recommendations for supporting the restaurant industry in Somerville throughout the crisis and during recovery.

The recommendations generated from the working group can be found here.