NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans restaurants extending their dining area onto the sidewalk will be allowed to continue through the rest of 2020, city officials said Friday.
The city's department of safety and permits announced that it would continue suspending enforcement of off-street parking requirements for restaurants and bars, and would continue issuing sidewalk use permits for additional outdoor seating.
The lack of enforcement means that businesses can use private parking lots for outdoor seating, as well as the sidewalk (with a permit) to serve customers food and drinks.
The city warned that any outdoor seating must adhere to the Americans with Disabilities act, capacity requirements from the State Fire Marshal's Office, and strict social distancing.
“If you're a restaurant, a table means money,” said Gilbert Montano, the city’s chief administrative officer, when the program was announced. “And a table means customers and more opportunity and people have jobs.”
The Louisiana Restaurant Association has said as many as 25 percent of restaurants across the state might not survive the COVID-19 outbreak. The organization’s president said that figure could be worse in New Orleans.
For many bars and restaurants in the city, their best case scenario is breaking even and treading water until more relief money comes or the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to announce a decision later this month about whether the state will be allowed to go to Phase 3, easing off many of the current restrictions on dining and socializing.
New Orleans could follow the state's guidelines when that happens, but has in the past opted for a slower cutback of the public health restrictions.