It appears the expanded outdoor dining opportunities in downtown Greensboro are here to stay.

At the Tuesday, Sept. 21 virtual meeting the Greensboro City Council will consider approving a revised ordinance that allows the expanded outdoor dining areas which were originally permitted due to COVID-19 restrictions to continue.

On March 17, 2020 Gov. Roy Cooper prohibited indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants in the state by executive order only takeout orders were allowed.  In May 2020 restaurants were allowed to reopen for in person dining at 50 percent of their permitted capacity by an executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper.

Since indoor dining was so limited, the City Council instructed then City Manager David Parrish to come up with a way for restaurants to expand their outdoor dining areas.

Parrish did this through the use of an existing “special event permit” which allowed restaurants to expand their outdoor seating capacity into public right of ways including areas designated for parking.

On Sept. 21 the City Council will consider a nearly complete rewrite of the ordinance permitting outdoor dining to allow these expanded areas now being used by “special event permits” to continue to be used on a permanent basis.

According to the agenda, city staff collaborated with Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) and other stakeholders to develop the revisions to the existing ordinance.

President of DGI Zack Matheny said, “We are excited to have worked with the city on behalf of the business owners in downtown to continue dining patios in perpetuity.  Creating the dining patios have help the patrons with safety protocols, expand business growth and generate a vibrancy that Greensboro has long needed.”

 Matheny added, “Downtown Greensboro Inc. has funds in this year’s budget to partner with the participating restaurants to enhance the safety and aesthetics of the patios.  We hope City Council will agree and unanimously approve this ordinance so we can collaborate and continue.”

When the emergency order allowing restaurants to expand their outdoor seating area first went into effect, some pretty ugly Jersey barriers were placed around the seating areas to protect diners from traffic.  However, over time some of the concrete Jersey barriers were replaced with planters, and in others they were painted and covered to make them less obtrusive, and as the COVID pandemic continues, the expanded outdoor dining areas have been very popular.