Sarah Hauer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Restaurants that want to add more outdoor dining space will be able to start applying to a new city program Wednesday.
Applications for the Active Streets for Businesses program will go live Wednesday morning. Through the program approved by Milwaukee's Common Council Tuesday, restaurants will be able to add more outdoor seating using sidewalks, parking lanes and travel lanes.
The resolution to create an Active Streets for Business program passed Tuesday with 14 ayes and one abstention from Alderwoman Chantia Lewis.
The program will allow the creation of additional outdoor dining space as restaurants reopen following the lifting of government stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Restaurants and bars in Milwaukee were allowed to reopen June 5 with limited capacity to allow for social distancing. Those businesses had been only able to offer carryout since a statewide stay-at-home order went into place in March.
Dining with outdoor seating is safer than indoor dining, according to guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More outdoor seating could be created on sidewalks and through the city's parklet program, which replaces street parking spaces with seasonal outdoor seating. The program could also temporarily close commercial streets, likely during evenings and weekends.
Restaurants would need to create barriers to block traffic from the new seating areas.
The Active Streets for Business program suspends code and permit requirements to allow expedited city approval for restaurants to use streets and sidewalks for outdoor dining. Fees would be waived.
The program would run through Nov. 15.
The program does not allow for block parties, bar crawls or street festivals. Those events have mostly been canceled for months because of the pandemic.
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