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Monday, May 4, 2020

Orlando restaurants can expand seating to parking lots, sidewalks

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2020 at 2:07 PM

  • Screenshot via City of Orlando/Facebook
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced changes to city code to help local businesses reopen under new state guidelines, including allowing restaurants to turn parking lots and sidewalks into outdoor seating space.

"Together we were able to control the spread of this virus and now begin to reopen our economy responsibly and move into a new phase of recovery for our businesses," said Dyer at a Monday morning press conference. "But as we move into this new phase, we must remain vigilant. Just because you can leave home doesn't mean you have to."

The policy includes retail establishments and is effective immediately, extending until Sept. 1. In addition to businesses being able to move outside, the city council will need to vote on Monday to allow the use of space in a public right-of-way adjacent to the building, such as the sidewalk outside a restaurant, and also to waive the usual permits.

When Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Wednesday that phase one of reopening the state's economy would begin on Monday, May 4, his order allowed restaurants to use outdoor seating, as long as six-foot social distancing is maintained. The use of indoor seating is limited to 25 percent of capacity, making Monday's declaration in Orlando particularly important for establishments without a large patio or outdoor space.

The mayor also announced Monday that businesses will be allowed to use small, farmer's market-style tents measuring 12 by 12 feet for sales and seating outdoors, as well as extra banners and signage, like a-frames, without a permit. The announcement also included waiving downtown parking fees to encourage more shopping.

Enforcement will overseen by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations.

"We would report restaurants that aren't complying to DBPR," said Dyer.

The mayor reminded attendees that large gatherings are still not allowed, especially with Tuesday's Cinco de Mayo on the calendar. The current phase one reopening does not include bars, gyms or salons.

When asked about whether the state has given any indication of a phase two timeline, Dyers said, "I have not talked to the governor. Watch the governor's press conference to get that information."

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