Somerville Extends Outdoor Restaurant Dining Accommodations Through 2021
The expansion of outdoor dining options for restaurants in response to the pandemic will continue through next year
As the weather gets colder, tents and outdoor heaters may be cropping up on Somerville streets as local restaurants dig in to continue outdoor dining during the cooler weather. The recent expansion of outdoor dining in Somerville in response to the pandemic had been scheduled to end November 1. But it will now be allowed to continue year-round through December 31, 2021, weather and safety permitting, now that the City administration and the Somerville City Council have taken steps to extend it.
Governor Baker recently extended outdoor seating for the duration of the Covid-19 State of Emergency. That action however still requires municipalities to adjust licensing and permitting requirements in order for the extension to go into effect locally. Last week, the City administration and the City Council both approved measures to do just that. Meanwhile, City staff are developing a set of guidelines and a seamless application process to permit outdoor seating for the rest of the year and establish a framework for continued outdoor dining operation in 2021.
“Our restaurants have been true community partners in working to help ensure dining in Somerville upholds the highest safety standards to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Allowing this expansion is critical to aid them in their efforts to continue to offer safer options to customers, secure local jobs, and keep this vital part of our local economy going. I look forward to seeing their creative, and safety-conscious, solutions for the cooler weather.”
"As chair of the City Council's Licenses and Permits Committee, I was quite pleased then the City Council voted to eliminate some red tape and add predictability to the licensing process to support local businesses during this difficult time. Restaurants are a key part of our local economy and the City Council wanted to act as soon as possible to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic," said City Councilor-at-Large William White.
Detailed guidelines for restaurant owners will be available via somervillema.gov/restaurantopening and businesses are encouraged to sign up for the Economic Development Division’s e-newsletter for updates. Protective structures such as tents or canopies, seating changes, and heaters will be subject to review and approval by the appropriate departments including the Fire Department, Inspectional Services, OSPCD, and Engineering. Recorded music will be permitted where appropriate and is also subject to City approval. Staff are working with artists and business operators in the next few weeks to consider the feasibility of live entertainment and will provide an update at the October 16th Licensing Commission meeting.
In an effort to manage snow removal and avoid concerns of storage and safety, the City will reserve the right to require the immediate removal of temporary installations during snow emergencies. Licensees will be responsible for clearing and maintaining their outdoor seating area (sidewalk or street) of snow. Details for the maintenance and timeframe to remove furniture in the case of a snow emergency will be provided.
The Licensing Commission is now accepting applications for the changes to outdoor dining listed above. Application and guidelines are available on the Restaurant Reopening website.
For more information and regular COVID-19 updates, visit www.somervillema.gov/coronavirus and sign up for City alerts at www.somervillema.gov/Alerts. We urge you to sign up for every alert method you are able to receive: phone call, text, email. Also follow FB.com/SomervilleCity and @SomervilleCity.