With days to go before some Connecticut businesses start to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to close, the mayor of Hartford will be announcing an online outdoor activities permit for restaurants and retailers.
Hartford businesses that are eligible to reopen on May 20 can apply for outdoor eating, outdoor alcohol, outdoor retail activity and outdoor signage permits, and businesses that have existing permits for those activities and are not expanding them do not have to apply, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
There is no fee for the service, Bronin said.
"We want to make this simple and easy for our businesses," the mayor said.
Restaurants that already have outdoor space permits, do not need to participate in this process. Restaurants that have outdoor space near the restaurant, even parking spaces, will need to request a permit.
The city will work with the Hartford Parking Authority to approve restaurants' permits if they want to use parking spaces in front of or by the restaurant.
Bronin said for restaurants that do not have available outdoor space, the city is willing to consider proposals to use other public or private spaces for outdoor service, even including looking at closing streets.
"We have tried to be quick and at the forefront of how we can loosen restrictions on outdoor dining," Bronin said.
The only non-starters are requests that violate the governor's executive orders or endanger the public health, the mayor said.
“We’ve created a streamlined, one-stop application for eligible businesses that want to reopen with expanded outdoor operations on May 20th,” Bronin said in a statement. “Part of striking the right balance between protecting public health and facilitating our economic recovery is clear communication with businesses, and this application lays out what standards restaurants and retailers have to meet to operate outdoors as safely as possible.”
The city is going to work to expedite the permit application approval process as quickly as possible, Bronin said. He said he expects it to take significantly less than 10 days but will depend on how many permit requests come in.
The mayor said the city wanted to make the process simple, quick and clear so businesses can expand outdoor operations in a safe and responsible way, but the city will also be taking enforcement responsibilities seriously.
The mayor is urging residents not to focus too much on individual dates because he said the recovery will be slow and evolving.
"The process for reopening is going to be long and uneven," Bronin said.
Bronin reminded residents to social distance over the weekend, even with warmer weather returning.
"I want to remind everyone that social distancing is as important now as ever," Bronin said.
The mayor said it's fine to spend time outside with members of your household but to avoid large gatherings and groups.
Residents are subject to warnings from police officers who will be on patrol, he said.