The Greensboro City Council will decide whether or not to give restaurants temporary flexibility on outdoor dining at the continuation of its Tuesday, May 19 meeting to be held virtually Thursday, May 21 at 11 a.m.

The meeting Tuesday was recessed and will be called back into order on Thursday, and originally there was nothing on the agenda except reaffirming the votes taken on public hearing items at the Tuesday meeting in an attempt to comply with state law.

However, at the close of the Tuesday meeting Mayor Nancy Vaughan suggested that with Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement that Phase 2 of the reopening process for the stay-at-home order would go into effect on Friday, May 22, she thought the city should try to accommodate restaurants that have been closed except for takeout and delivery service since March 17.

Vaughan said that under Phase 2 restaurants would be allowed to reopen at 50 percent of their capacity, but some restaurants because of their floor plan would have to operate at even less than 50 percent. Vaughan said that she wanted to temporarily allow restaurants to extend their outdoor dining area to make up for what they were going to lose inside.

Vaughan said, “What we want to do is be as flexible as we can.”

She said outdoor dining was healthier and that the city should do what it could to allow restaurants to move tables and chairs on to the sidewalk or parking lot to accommodate more diners.

Vaughan also noted that the restaurants had really taken a big hit with the coronavirus shutdown and that many were just hanging on by a thread. She said that the city should do whatever it could to help them get back on their feet.

City councilmembers kept saying that they supported the idea but also kept raising questions about it. Councilmember Tammi Thurm said she was worried about noise, noting that some restaurants in her district were right in the midst of residential neighborhoods.

Councilmember Justin Outling said, “If it calls for the suspension of an ordinance that is an action of the council.”

He said he needed more clarity before he could vote to support the idea.

Vaughan said, “We didn’t have time to write up an ordinance.”

City Manager David Parrish said that the staff could have something prepared by the City Council budget work session on Tuesday, May 26.

Vaughan said, “They’ll miss Memorial Day weekend.”

Finally the City Council agreed to direct Parrish to come up with a plan and present it to the City Council at the continuation of their meeting on Thursday.