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Licensing Board Provides Outdoor Dining Updates to Neighborhood Council

Kathleen Joyce, Chairwoman of the Licensing Board, provided updates on COVID-19 guidelines for restaurants’ outdoor dining areas to the North End/ Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) during their July 2020 meeting.

“I just wanted to reassure everyone on the call tonight, the North End is doing a good job,” started off Chairwoman Joyce.

Following multiple complaints regarding the North End’s “Cafe Zones” last month, an emergency hearing was called to address concerns in the neighborhood, but Chairwoman Joyce reiterated that the North End was in “good shape.”

She stated that North End restaurant owners are being asked to get their own barriers as City officials have collected the City-issued barriers to provide to other businesses who have not yet had the chance to open their outdoor dining areas.

Tables are required to be six feet apart, from table’s edge to table’s edge. This does not require chairs at the tables to each be six feet apart. After the last licensing hearing, inspectors did evaluate North End restaurants to ensure that tables were properly distanced and restaurants were not taking more space than was allowed by their approval.

Other complaints received by the licensing board have regarded employees not wearing masks, tables blocking pedestrians on the sidewalk, and patrons waiting in lines without wearing face coverings.

Restaurants are allowed indoor music, but outdoor entertainment is still not permitted.

Also, to clarify confusion that some owners have had regarding barriers, Chairwoman Joyce stated there should be hard L-shaped barriers in the direction of traffic with an enclosure on the other side. This is to protect against traffic that is still ongoing down Hanover Street.

Further updates regarding what is currently allowed by the licensing board during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.

“We don’t have an end date for this program,” stated Chairwoman Joyce. “We don’t expect it to continue next year at all. This is really in response to the Governor’s state of emergency.”

The program is expected to continue through the summer and potentially into early Fall as weather permits. Feedback to balance restaurants’ needs and the community’s needs are wanted, and can be submitted here.

Questions from Council members and residents:

  • Have speed bumps been considered on Hanover Street? Alternatives are continuing to be evaluated as the City’s speed bumps would not work with the Fire Department’s trucks in the case of an emergency. Officials have instead been posting police officers in the area in an attempt to address speeding.
  • What can be done for the delivery trucks displaced by “Cafe Zones” who are causing traffic congestion? The Boston Transportation Department is looking at making loading and unloading adjustments as well as relocating pickup and drop-off locations for delivery trucks.
  • Can unused “Cafe Zone” spots be used for resident parking? There were safety concerns raised regarding a car attempting to parallel park near restaurants’ outdoor seating.
  • Are restaurants who have live entertainment indoors allowed to open their windows so that the music can be heard outside? No, the music should not be heard from outside of the establishment.

2 Replies to “Licensing Board Provides Outdoor Dining Updates to Neighborhood Council

  1. This program should continue into next year at times it be a great experience. You never know we may not even be out of the clear by early next year without a treatment. Praying it’s soon but 2021 could still see this program happening. And music should be able to happen outside at least like the accordions without singing. Indoor music is just as risker it’s indoor. Inside= VIP access for Corona

  2. It would be wonderful if the outdoor dining could be a permanent thing for the warmer months each year. It’s been so nice dining outside al fresco in the North End and everyone really seems to love it.

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