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Al fresco dining is becoming the new normal for restaurants -- if weather permits.
States like Illinois, Pennslyvania, Maryland and New Jersey, among others, are gearing up for outdoor dining to resume Friday and in June as an alternative to indoor seating with summer soon approaching. And it could be a slow start to recovering lost revenue from coronavirus shutdowns.
Chicago released guidelines earlier this week suggesting that restaurants could eventually reopen indoor dining rooms if they are retrofitted with removable doors, windows or panels to convert into open-air spaces, Eater Chicago reported.
The guidelines say: "dining areas considered outdoors include rooftops, rooms with retractable roofs and indoor spaces where 50 percent or more of the wall can be removed via the opening of windows, doors, or panels provided that dining tables are within 8 feet from such openings."
Illinois stay-at-home orders expire on Friday, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker is allowing restaurants in the state to open for outdoor dining. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, however, has voiced concern over the city's weather that could put a damper on outdoor and rooftop dining reopening. Lightfoot has not put out a date for when Chicago restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining with some reports suggesting it could happen in June.
"No restaurant I know of is going to be able to survive, depending upon what the weather is gonna be like on a particular day in Chicago," Lightfoot told reporters according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Last week, the governor of New Jersey allowed restaurants to open for outdoor eating in an effort to help small businesses recover after having to close dining rooms due to the coronavirus pandemic and serve takeout and delivery only.
Maryland restaurants will also be allowed to be open for al fresco dining on Friday with social distancing orders in place. And as of June 5, Pennsylvania restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor dining.
Restaurant owners financially crippled by the coronavirus pandemic in places like New York and D.C. have urged city leaders to allow them to serve in additional outdoor spaces by closing some streets so that restaurants can serve customers while adhering to social distancing guidelines.