Restaurants in Scarborough have been using their outdoor spaces to serve customers since the Town Council approved an emergency ordinance in May of 2020. Catherine Bart/Leader

SCARBOROUGH — Restaurants and other establishments in Scarborough will be able to serve patrons outdoors, even during the chilly winter months, until April 15. The Town Council approved an extension of its emergency ordinance that allows establishments to use their outdoor spaces.

The temporary emergency ordinance, first approved by the Town Council in May, allows for establishments such as restaurants to create or expand outdoor services. Businesses looking to take advantage of the ordinance must apply through the Planning Department and an administrative review team.

On Oct. 7, the Town Council authorized the expansion of the deadline through the winter, but Councilor Ken Johnson questioned what restaurants would do as the weather becomes less appealing for outdoor dining.

“We do live in Maine and it’s going to get chilly,” he said.

Any heating mechanism that restaurants or establishments add to outdoor tents would be a part of the permitting process, Planning Director Jay Chace said.

“We do require for those who put up a tent — that’s where some of this is happening and where you might see heating — any heating source is part of that tent permit process,” he said. “I don’t even think we’re at a dozen sites that have actually come forward and got applications, so we’re at constant communication with those folks.”

Town Manager Tom Hall said that he’s not sure if many establishments will use the ordinance.

“There’s any number of codes that they need to be compliant with, not the least of which the fire code,” he said. “I’m not sure if any establishment will actually (apply) to use this, but I think the intent is we’d like to make it available if someone wishes to find a way to make it happen.”

The Mills Administration announced on Oct. 6 that Maine will go into Stage 4 of the Reopening Plan on Oct. 13, allowing for restaurants to serve patrons indoors at either half capacity or at a 100-person capacity, whichever is less.

“With winter weather approaching, we must support businesses across the state as outdoor service becomes less viable and people move inside,” Gov. Janet Mills said. “This expanded capacity, along with continued health and safety precautions, is a prudent step forward that balances public health and economic health. These adjustments, however, should not lure us into a false sense of security. This virus is still very much with us all across the state and wearing a face covering, staying six feet apart, avoiding large gatherings, and washing our hands often is key to keeping Maine schools and businesses open and keeping Maine people healthy.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: