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City eases restrictions to permit outdoor dining in restaurant parking lots, downtown parking spaces

5/13/2020

In support of local food establishments and industry employees as they reopen dining services for patrons, the City of Gainesville will ease regulations temporarily on outdoor seating.

Under the new changes, restaurants will be permitted to repurpose their unused, private parking lots to create additional outdoor seating options for customers under social distancing guidelines. In addition, the city will temporarily close portions of Southwest First Avenue between South Main Street and Southwest Second Street in downtown Gainesville, permitting restaurants to use the city’s parking spaces for additional table service. Road closures begin Thursday, May 14.

A simple online form for restaurant owners to apply for temporary outdoor seating can be found here. Once approved, restaurants may begin offering additional outdoor seating.

“We expect the changes to last as long as the executive orders limit the capacity of indoor service,” said Andrew Persons, the city’s interim director of sustainable development. 

In addition, the city will open Lot 10 (located at 100 SW 1st Ave.) for temporary parking to offset the loss of downtown parking resulting from the changes. A number of parking spaces in the lot will be reserved for to-go parking.

“We’re excited about solutions like these to safely seat more customers while recognizing how important it is to keep take-out business strong for downtown bars and restaurants,” said Danny Hughes, owner of Loosey’s – Downtown Gainesville. “We want our employees and our patrons to feel safe.

“Our restaurants and their employees have faced tremendous hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said City Manager Lee Feldman. “We hope these measures will help them to more readily get back on their feet during this challenging time.”