Long Beach approves use of sidewalks, parking lots to help restaurants social distancing

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The Long Beach City Council voted Tuesday to approve a plan allowing restaurants to use sidewalks, parking lots and other outdoor spaces in an effort to help with social distancing as they move closer to fully reopening.

The plan, called the Open Streets Initiative, will make it possible to temporarily re-purpose some public spaces for physically distanced retail, dining and potentially even entertainment, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said.

“Opening up streets and other public spaces to new uses creates more room for people to be outside, spend time with the community, and support local businesses without overcrowding,” he said.

Although some COVID-19 related restrictions have been lifted on California businesses, dining rooms remain closed per state and local health orders.

The open streets initiative is designed to help restaurants safely expand outdoor dining into open spaces, Garcia said.

The initiative works in conjunction with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s plan to issue temporary catering authorizations.

An authorization will allow businesses with an alcohol license to serve customers outdoors, Eater Los Angeles reported.

In March, the Alcoholic Beverage Control agreed to temporarily allow restaurants to sell cocktails and alcohol to customers picking up to-go orders.

“Open Streets will be a significant step forward in planning for how to keep Long Beach’s incredibly unique economy competitive during this health crisis,” Garcia said. “But make no mistake, we will only move forward when it is safe to do so.”

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