August 20, 2020

Safely Support Bellaire Restaurants by Dining Out, Outside

In time for (hopefully) cooler weather, Bellaire restaurants now have the option to convert some of their currently underutilized parking spaces to provide additional outdoor seating.  Largely modeled after the City of Houston’s More Space pilot program adopted earlier this month, Bellaire City Council has approved issuing temporary use permits to participating restaurants subject to certain minimum standards and safeguards.  Fees for the temporary permits will be waived.

The intent is to give our restaurants some much-needed relief from the prolonged economic effects of the ongoing pandemic, while allowing residents to begin dining out again, safely.  COVID-19 public health guidelines will apply the same in these expanded outdoor dining areas as they do inside.  There will also be specific requirements for the permitted spaces, such as seating layouts for social distancing, traffic plans, and physical barriers at the perimeter to keep cars separate from people.

Though we don’t know for how long restaurant occupancy restrictions will remain in effect, Council provided this temporary authorization until May 1 of next year.  That’s in recognition of the fact that even after the Governor lifts those restrictions many people still won’t feel completely safe in crowded dining rooms.  Plus, it gives restaurant owners added flexibility as they make their plans, including any upfront investments.

Bellaire residents have always valued and supported our local businesses, and this pandemic is no exception.  In fact, it’s now more important than ever that we do so.  We hope this initiative will help our restaurants in their economic recovery and make it easier for residents to Stay Loyal to Local, while also staying safe.