The Town of Greece is announcing a plan to help local restaurants by allowing them to apply for a temporary permit to operate with outdoor seating.
The permit would require having an adequate amount of social distancing between tables.
Under the phased-in reopening plan for New York state, restaurants would not be fully reopening until at least mid-June, but Town Supervisor Bill Reilich said this is a different kind of a situation, similar to the takeout and curbside service that a number of restaurants are providing now.
"The same thing we see where people can drive up to a restaurant and they hand them a takeout container through the window of their car, so what’s the difference if I put it on the seat of your car or I put it on a plate in front of you," Reilich said. "So I thought, we’re going to practice safe distancing, we’re going to follow the guidelines the state has identified.
"Not every restaurant will be able to accommodate this, but we’re going to have a permit process, there’s no cost involved in the permit and either they will get a written floor plan so we could approve it or we’ll go out and visit the site to approve it. If it can’t be done at a restaurant we won’t allow it."
As a former small business owner, Reilich says he can relate to the struggles a lot of small businesses are going through due to the shut-down period.
Empire State Development, the state agency that helps administer state policies on reopening, says that the town should not be issuing the outdoor dining permits at this time and it has contacted Greece officials.
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy issued the following statement as Finger Lakes regional reopening special advisor to Governor Cuomo:
“While we like the concept of opening outdoor dining spaces, it is important to not get out in front of a decision-making process. The decision to further open businesses in any region of New York State is Governor Cuomo’s and his only. To go against that without permission would not be advisable. The New York Forward phased strategy is not only designed to reopen businesses as quickly as practical, but also to assure customers that it is safe and secure to patronize them. We ask for the community’s patience while Governor Cuomo takes a data-driven, fact-based reopening approach that is good for both business and public health.”