SOMERVILLE, MA — Tents and outdoor heaters will crop up on Somerville streets as local restaurants dig in to continue outdoor dining during the colder weather. The expansion of outdoor dining, originally scheduled to expire Nov. 1, has been extended until Dec. 31, 2021.
Gov. Baker recently extended outdoor seating for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, an action that still requires communities to adjust licensing and permitting requirements at a local level before it can go into effect.
The City Council and administration both approved measures last week allowing the extension. Meanwhile, city staff are developing a set of guidelines and a streamlined application process to permit outdoor dining into next year.
“Our restaurants have been true community partners in working to help ensure dining in Somerville upholds the highest safety standards to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus,” Mayor Joseph Curtatone said in a statement. “Allowing this expansion is critical to aid them in their efforts to continue to offer safer options to customers, secure local jobs, and keep this vital part of our local economy going. I look forward to seeing their creative, and safety-conscious, solutions for the cooler weather.”
Detailed guidelines for restaurant owners will be available via somervillema.gov/restaurantopening and businesses are encouraged to sign up for the Economic Development Division’s e-newsletter for updates. Protective structures such as tents or canopies, seating changes, and heaters will be subject to review and approval by the appropriate departments including the Fire Department, Inspectional Services, OSPCD, and Engineering.
Recorded music will be permitted where appropriate and is also subject to City approval.
Staff are working with artists and business operators in the next few weeks to consider the feasibility of live entertainment and will provide an update at the October 16th Licensing Commission meeting.
In an effort to manage snow removal and avoid concerns of storage and safety, the City will reserve the right to require the immediate removal of temporary installations during snow emergencies. Licensees will be responsible for clearing and maintaining their outdoor seating area – sidewalk or street – of snow. Details for the maintenance and timeframe to remove furniture in the case of a snow emergency will be provided.
The Licensing Commission is now accepting applications for the changes to outdoor dining listed above. Application and guidelines are available on the Restaurant Reopening website.
This article originally appeared on the Somerville Patch