State Senator Bruce Tarr’s Amendment Grants Local Authority For Permanent Outdoor Restaurant Dining

Below is a press release from State Senator Bruce Tarr, who represents Wilmington:

BOSTON, MA — Restaurant patrons have enjoyed an opportunity to dine out while dining outside and with the approval of a budget amendment offered by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr cities and towns will be empowered to make outdoor dining a permanent part of the menu.

With nearly 16,000 restaurants in the state impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, and more than 3,000 permanently shuttered, Tarr is offering to lift the restrictions baked into the new laws aimed at improving public health and safety while giving restaurant managers a way to keep the kitchens open and staffed. State lawmakers and regulators made way for a temporary return to limited indoor dining and outdoor dining in June of last year as part of Phase II of the Reopening Plan, exceptions are set to expire April 1, 2023.

“We know that customers have embraced outdoor dining and the restaurant owners in Massachusetts found it to be an effective way to attract clients and recoup some of the massive losses from the restrictions,” said Senator Tarr (R-Gloucester). “I am proposing allowing local licensing authorities in municipalities, where health and safety inspections and permitting are already happening, to have the option of granting a permanent extension for outdoor dining. Outdoor table service for patrons on a sidewalk, patio, deck, or under awnings helps with social distancing and patron choice.”

Restaurants offering outdoor options under Tarr’s proposal, Local Opt-In For Permanent Outdoor Dining, will still be required to meet COVID-19 safety guidelines and comply with state and local regulations and building, fire, electrical, and plumbing codes related to providing accessible routes and accessible tables and seating.

“Doing this will be a major victory for restaurants, for patrons, for cities and towns to collect meals taxes, and for all those who are employed by restaurants and all of the other trades that provide the supplies – a foundation in the road to restaurant recovery,” said Tarr.

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