City of Winnipeg promises to fast-track temporary patio permit applications
Restaurants can open patio spaces to customers again starting Monday
The City of Winnipeg has unveiled details about how it plans to help restaurants open temporary patio spaces on sidewalks and street parking spaces.
Starting Monday, provincial restrictions on restaurants will be eased, allowing them to serve customers — provided they're outside — as the province loosens restrictions on the non-essential businesses forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic.
The city announced its response to the first phase of the province's reopening on Thursday, which included the promise of a temporary permit system for patios.
On Friday, the city said restaurants that don't currently have a patio permit can now apply for temporary permits, which will be good until May 31. The city will reassess the situation at that point, and possibly allow extensions.
According to the city's website, businesses are usually encouraged to submit their applications for temporary patios in January to allow for an approval process. That process will now be streamlined to get those who want an outdoor space up and running by next week.
The city is waiving the fees that would normally apply and the city says all applications received by 3 p.m. on Sunday will be processed in time for businesses to open on Monday.
Restaurants have been restricted to offering takeout or delivery options only since April 1, when they were required to close their dining rooms. Many had already done that because of difficulties keeping patrons spaced out.
Indoor dining rooms have to remain closed for now, and the province has put in place some strict rules for patio services to operate.
People will have to be seated at least two metres apart on a patio.
As well, tables and chairs will have to be cleaned between customers, as will condiment containers or any other shared items, like menus and napkin dispensers. Buffets are not allowed.
In addition to following provincial rules, the temporary patios will have to comply with all city safety guidelines, including requiring a fence if alcohol is served, and not blocking sidewalk access for pedestrians.
Patios must be open air without any canopies or structures, and fencing must not damage or be drilled into city property.
The city says the size of patios should be limited so as to not disturb people who live nearby or encroach on the space of neighbouring businesses.
Restaurants will also have to stop serving customers by 11 p.m. and keep noise to a minimum.
The province has said restaurant dining rooms will be allowed to reopen — at a maximum 50 per cent capacity — under Phase 2 of the reopening plan, but that won't happen before June 1.
Provincial officials warned those plans could change if there's an unexpected rise in COVID-19 cases.
With files from Ian Froese