Arlington County is allowing restaurants to create temporary outdoor seating areas during the pandemic, according to a news report by ARLnow.
In a special meeting held on Tuesday, the board voted unanimously a motion that would allow restaurants to apply for temporary, expanded outdoor eating areas on sidewalks or parking lots. As part of Northern Virginia Phase I reopening on Friday, restaurants are only allowed to sit 5o percent capacity outdoors, with physical distancing requirements between diners and other restrictions.
Rather than need County Board approval which can take at least 6o days, The Temporary Outdoor Seating Area (TOSA) process allows rapid approval by county staff and does not require an application fee. With written permission in hand, restaurants can then seek additional permits from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority that would allow them to serve beer, wine, and cocktail in the new outdoor dining areas.
In a presentation to the Board, county staff said TOSAs could be created in surface parking, sidewalk space, and street parking lanes, although for the latter, the use of parking spaces should not conflict with pick-up and delivery zones.
“Where appropriate, repurposing parking lanes may add flexibility,” the presentation said. “The review process will prioritize proposals where the owner has consulted with neighbors.”
Parking Space TOSAs will require removable physical barriers, will be subject to review by Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, and must comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Vehicle travel lanes are currently expected to remain open.
The TOSA permits will be valid until the county terminates them once the pandemic abates or individually for restaurants that “flaunt” the rules.