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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Mayor Wu announces return of Outdoor Dining Pilot Program

On Thursday, Feb. 24, Mayor of Boston Michelle Wu announced that the city’s Outdoor Dining Pilot Program will begin again on Apr. 1, 2022, with the exception of restaurants in the North End. The program allows for the use of expanded public places by restaurants for outdoor seating.

“For the past two years we’ve seen how outdoor dining activates public spaces, helps small businesses, and creates connected communities for everyone,” said Mayor Wu. “I’m excited to bring outdoor dining back this spring to support our small businesses and continue to make public spaces more accessible and enjoyable for residents, business owners and visitors across our neighborhoods.” 

Restaurants must apply in order to take part in the pilot program. Applications are now open and according to boston.gov, will be “accepted on a rolling basis.” Restaurants that participated in the pilot program in 2021 must reapply if they wish to take part in the program again in 2022. 

As of now, restaurants in the North End may submit an application, but will not be allowed to begin the pilot program on Apr. 1 with restaurants in other parts of the city. According to NBC Boston: “The mayor’s office said the North End is currently undergoing a community review of the outdoor dining program as special considerations are needed due to the density of the restaurants in the neighborhood. North End restaurants can still submit an application while awaiting follow-up information from the City of Boston on how the program will proceed in the neighborhood.” 

Restaurants may convert public spaces, such as parking spaces and sidewalks, into dining areas under the pilot program. 

“We are excited to see the Outdoor Dining Pilot Program return to the City of Boston,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “This program not only provided much needed support for our small businesses, it also activated spaces across our neighborhoods and helped keep our city vibrant as we recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

This announcement comes on the heels of Mayor Wu’s Feb. 18 announcement that Boston’s proof-of-vaccine mandate had been lifted for indoor dining and other indoor activities starting that day. Wu lifted the mandate because the city had hit three crucial benchmarks: below 95 percent bed occupancy in intensive care units, fewer than 200 hospitalizations per day, and a community positivity rate of less than five percent.

The state is seeing even more relaxations of COVID-19 restrictions as of late. On Feb. 9, Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker announced that, as of Feb. 28, masks will no longer be required for students or faculty indoors at K-12 public schools in Massachusetts.

The Outdoor Dining Pilot Program was created during former Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh’s administration in 2020. The goal of the pilot program was to aid restaurants who were struggling throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to more stringent customer capacity regulations at indoor dining locations. According to NBC Boston, over 400 restaurants participated in the program in the spring of 2021.

In addition to reinstating the pilot program, the city has updated some of its outdoor dining policies. Outdoor seating must close at 9:30 p.m. on Sundays-Thursdays, and 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. An evacuation plan and new insurance requirements have been added, and fire safety and barrier guidelines have been updated. 

In order to find more information regarding the reopening of the city of Boston in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, visit boston.gov.