INDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Joe Hogsett announced the next steps for restaurants and diners in Marion County.
Restaurants will open for outdoor seating on Friday as long as they follow strict social distancing rules. It’s part of a limited “Phase Two” for reopening the county.
During a virtual news conference Tuesday, Hogsett said five downtown streets would close to help restaurants squeezed for space have areas for outdoor dining.
Portions of the following streets will close to traffic:
- Massachusetts Avenue
- Georgia Street
- South Monument Circle
- Illinois Street
- Broad Ripple Avenue
Those areas will be able to use sidewalk and street seating. Restaurants are allowed to have 50% capacity seating in those outdoor spaces. Groups of people will be limited to six people or less.
Signs may be used to provide directions to diners and to mark seating between restaurants. A canopy with open sides is allowed in contiguous lots. If the canopy is larger than 3,200 square feet, a separate temporary permit is required.
Tents with closed sides, live music and other forms of live entertainment are not allowed.
Outdoor areas must meet ADA requirements. Establishments with existing liquor licenses can serve alcohol, but outdoor bars are not allowed.
Restaurants with age-restricted seating must remain age-restricted–even with the emergency seating. Bars that don’t serve food are not allowed to reopen.
Hogsett said the street closures and outdoor seating could last through July 4 at the latest.
A website is available for restaurants to expedite requests for temporary outdoor seating permits. Restaurants that already have outdoor seating and are not planning to expand that area, do not need to apply for a permit. They can open without a temporary permit on Friday.
Hogsett also discussed the RESTART Grant Program, which will reimburse Marion County small businesses for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other expenses related to reopening during the pandemic.
The partnership between the city and the Indy Chamber will provide up to $5,000 to businesses with fewer than 150 employees. Businesses can learn more at response.indychamber.com/restart.
Restaurants have been hit hard during this time. The president of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association tells us permanent closures will likely increase, saying the next 30 to 60 days are vital for restaurant owners.
Data from the association showed 66% of restaurants throughout the state haven’t been able to open at all—not even for carryout.
If Marion County continues to head in a positive direction, restaurants could possibly open indoor seating at half-capacity starting June 1.