Starting Friday, downtown Madison's State Street will be closed to vehicular traffic on eight weekends to accommodate businesses expanding their serving areas outside as a part of the city’s Streatery Restaurant Recovery Program.
The number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in Dane County, spiking so much over the past two weeks that Public Health Madison & Dane County implemented stricter rules for bars and restaurants.
Calling the program a "life line" for many local businesses that have been affected by the pandemic, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement that it will benefit both restaurants and retailers.
“The weekend State Street closures will also help local retailers and merchants in their recovery by being able to take advantage of a full pedestrian street on weekends — all while maintaining good practices to prevent community spread of COVID-19,” she said.
Many bars and restaurants have been relying on takeout to carry their business through the pandemic. Rhodes-Conway said the “streatery” program is another way the city aims to support the small business community, especially as they adapt to pandemic conditions.
Allowing expanded, outdoor dining provides greater opportunity for better airflow and the ability to stay further away from other diners — recommended actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The order, which went into effect Thursday, does not affect outdoor dining but prohibits indoor service at bars. For outdoor dining service, tables and chairs must allow for six feet of space between customers who are not from the same household.
Also, only six people from the same household are allowed at each table.
State Street closures will continue on weekends through Aug. 23 and will begin each Friday at 6:45 p.m.
“I am excited to experiment with weekend State Street closures to give both restaurants and retailers a chance for success during these challenging times,” Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said.
In addition to letting restaurants expand into public sidewalks and streets and private parking lots, the city has identified several café zones, including the 100 block of East Mifflin Street (between Boar & Barrel and Heritage Tavern), the 100 block of East Main Street (Tipsy Cow to Argus Bar & Grill) and the 1900 block of Atwood Avenue (near Alchemy Cafe and the Green Owl).
Retailers are also eligible to sell merchandise on the sidewalk through the city’s Merchant Vending Program. All fees for that program have been waived in 2020.
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