New law allows RI restaurants to keep outdoor dining modifications

Business News

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Restaurants and bars that introduced or expanded outdoor dining during the pandemic will be able to stay the course for at least a few more months.

On Monday, Gov. Dan McKee ceremonially signed into law a bill imposing a moratorium on the enforcement of any municipal ordinances or zoning requirements that would normally prevent owners from modifying their businesses in such a way.

McKee called it a win for local businesses during a still-challenging time, as well as for patrons who want the option to eat outdoors.

“When something works and makes sense, you continue it. That is what this legislation is all about,” McKee said. “Allowing these outdoor seating arrangements to continue so we can support small, locally owned restaurants that have faced numerous challenges since the outset of the pandemic.”

The bill, which officially became law earlier this month, also gives owners the option to apply to make the modifications permanent. It was introduced by Sen. Sen. Alana M. DiMario and Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee, who were both on hand for Monday’s ceremonial signing.

“As a lawyer, I know what it takes to get outdoor dining permitted,” Hagan McEntee said. “It’s difficult and it’s costly and the these small businesses, restaurants and bars have suffered enough.”

The moratorium will remain in effect until April 1, 2022.

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