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Tina Picz
December 1, 2020
Boston’s Temporary Outdoor Dining Program Is Over
Here’s what that means for restaurants - and you.
Written by

As a result of the pandemic, government officials passed a Temporary Outdoor Dining Program over the summer, which permitted restaurants to utilize public sidewalks and parking lanes for outdoor dining space. The program was scheduled to expire at the end of October, but was extended until December 1.

Now that that day is here, and we know there will not be an additional extension to the program. What does that mean for all those heated patios we’ve been frequenting? Here’s all that we know so far.

What You Need To Know

Is this the end of outdoor dining?

No, not at all. The termination of the temporary program only affects restaurants that had to use public spaces for their patios. Spots with patios on private property can carry on with outdoor dining.

But doesn’t this still affect a lot of restaurants?

Yes, unfortunately. The North End, for example, will no longer be filled with picturesque patios. And some of our favorite restaurants may have to shift back to just doing takeout and delivery again.

Where will outdoor dining still be an option?

We’ll be updating our Heated Patios guide to reflect these changes soon, but Woods Hill Pier 4, Bar ’Cino, and Loyal Nine are just a few of the places that will still have outdoor dining.

There’s also one other exception.

The outdoor dining program only affected restaurants within the Boston city limits, so other cities can decide how they want to proceed this winter. Somerville, for example, has extended outdoor dining year-round, so don’t be surprised if you continue to see heated tents there.

What’s the deal with indoor dining?

Mayor Walsh has said that based on current COVID numbers, he has no plans to shut down indoor dining at the moment. The Cambridge City Council, however, has called for a restriction on indoor activities, which includes closing restaurants and gyms. But the council itself doesn’t have the power to close businesses, so spots in Cambridge will remain open - for now.

How can I keep supporting restaurants at this time?

Takeout and delivery are still options, both for restaurants and breweries. You can also support the RESTAURANTS Act, which still has not passed in Congress.

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