BURLINGTON - Fresh off creating an official COVID-19 economic task force, the town enacted temporary outdoor seating regulations for restaurants.
The task force crafted and reviewed the requirements, before proposing them to the Board of Selectmen this week, who unanimously approved the language.
The key aspects of the requirements are:
- Asking restaurants to provide protective barriers for outdoor seating, if it is in a parking lot or roadway.
- Music/television noise to be kept at a minimum level within 200-ft. of residential areas.
- Restaurants are required to prioritize reservations, when possible, so large groups of people are not waiting in line.
- Suggesting a time-limit on dinner tables, so the turnover is quicker and the process is generally safer.
These requirements are derived from the guidelines laid out by the state for phase 2, but the task received deserved credit from the selectmen and Town Administrator Paul Sagarino for getting this done on such short notice with countless requests coming in from restaurants in Burlington.
“The task force has done a great job,” Sagarino praised. “Requests have been coming at us fast and furious. The task force has done yeoman’s work to get restaurants up and running in such an expedited manner.”
Sagarino called the requirements a “living document” that is temporary and could change in time, depending on the status of COVID-19.
These requirements are in connection with the recently ratified joint letter of support for Burlington’s restaurants that was put together by representatives of the town’s economic advisors, planners, selectmen, Board of Health, Building Department, and Chamber of Commerce.
Besides setting up parameters for restaurants to reopen, the task force’s top priority is to ensure there is barrier protection and adequate safety for patrons eating in the makeshift outdoor dining settings.
Sagarino insisted the rulings he has been arbitrating for restaurant requests are “temporary” and only expected to last through the reopening period.
“Anything permitted or allowed can be rescinded at anytime,” reminded Sagarino, noting he hopes restaurant settings will eventually be able to go back to normal in the fall or winter. “The requests we will be handling from restaurants will be acted upon safely and quickly.”
Any requirements for indoor dining, which is now allowed at 50 percent in Massachusetts, will follow basically the same protocols as outdoor dining with tables being at least 6-ft. apart. However, the selectmen did not talk specifically about indoor dining regulations during the meetings, as the matter they dealt with only regarded outdoor dining regulations.
The selectmen unanimously approved the temporary outdoor seating requirements.