Atlanta to allow restaurants to offer on-street dining

The city of Atlanta will allow restaurants to serve food and drinks in dining areas on the streets outside of their establishments.

Restaurants must apply for a permit before operating on the city’s public right-of-way, according to regulations passed Monday by the Atlanta City Council. Atlanta already allows restaurants to serve food and drinks on sidewalks, with a permit.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, large cities around the country have given restaurants the ability to expand and set up tables on the sidewalk or in parking spaces outside their businesses, to allow for social distancing and open-air dining.

Local restaurants must submit an application to the Atlanta Department of Transportation for a temporary permit through the end of 2021, along with a site plan for the area where the on-street dining would be offered.

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For now, the city will not charge a fee for the permit to encourage restaurants to take part, though that could change in the future.

Across metro Atlanta, local governments have loosened restrictions to help restaurants stay afloat and keep diners safe during the pandemic, including allowing dining in parking lots or on sidewalks. Atlanta’s ordinance states on-street dining would promote public health, “add character to the streetscape environment, and encourage pedestrian activity.”