Florida restaurants clamor for outdoor seating, Lee, Fort Myers, Sanibel officials oblige

Florida restaurants clamor for outdoor seating, Lee, Fort Myers, Sanibel officials oblige

On Monday restaurants across the state can reopen their inside dining rooms at 25% capacity. Their outside patios and dining areas, however, are limited only by social distancing guidelines — tables 6 feet apart; parties no larger than 10 people. It’s a loophole restaurants are looking to take advantage of, and one where local governments have been happy to help. Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais signed an order Friday allowing restaurants to temporarily expand their outdoor seating, so long as they maintain guidelines outlined by the governor and the Centers for Disease Control. The cities of Sanibel and Fort Myers enacted similar measures allowing certain restaurants to add outside tables when their dining areas reopen Monday. Outdoor patios, such as this one at Yucatan Waterfront on Matlacha, can reopen Monday with seating limited only by social-distancing guidelines. Desjarlais’ order allows Lee restaurants to place seating in areas not previously allowed, such as parking lots. It will remain in effect until five days after restaurants are able to operate at 100% capacity per the governor. “Understanding that public health, safety and welfare remains critical during this pandemic, Lee County’s goal is to help facilitate the restarting of our economy,” Desjarlais said in a news release. “We know how crucial it is for people who are currently unemployed to get back to work.” Sanibel’s order applies only to restaurants smaller than 1,800 square feet that are complying with social-distancing guidelines and requirements put in place by the Sanibel Fire Department and Florida Health Department. Additional outdoor seating on the island must be approved by landlords. It cannot impact ingress or egress to a building, and temporary barriers must be put in place to separate dining and parking areas. The City of Fort Myers created a Temporary Outdoor Dining Area permit that […]

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