Outdoor dining, a staple in the COVID-19 era, could become permanent in Philadelphia if two recently introduced bills are passed.
The bills, introduced by Councilman Allan Domb and cosponsored by various other council members, would allow restaurants to apply for a license granting them the right to set up seating outside their brick-and-mortar storefronts beyond the end of 2021, which is when the current emergency order allowing outdoor dining is set to expire.
“With the emergency approvals expiring at the end of 2021, we need to establish legislation that would continue this great city amenity that we’ve enjoyed as a result of the pandemic,” Domb said in a written statement announcing his proposal. He noted that outdoor dining allowed restaurants keep their doors open during the pandemic while “continuing to overcome the challenges with maintaining a safe and healthy environment.”
Under Domb’s bills, restaurants could apply for an outdoor dining permit for $200. Seating capacity would not be allowed to exceed the restaurant’s indoor capacity, and owners would need to be able to remove any outdoor dining structures within 48 hours.
In addition, restaurants would need to place some form of protective barriers around the dining areas if they are adjacent to vehicular traffic. Restaurants would also not be able to reduce vehicle clearance to 12 feet or less and would need to provide pedestrian paths compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Department of Licenses and Inspections would be in charge of enforcing the rules, and violations would incur a fine of up to $300 per day, per violation. Repeat offenders would be subject to having their outdoor dining license revoked.
The legislation is cosponsored by Philadelphia City Council members Cherelle Parker, Kenyatta Johnson, Bobby Henon, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Derek Green and Kendra Brooks.