Five streets in the Old Port section of Portland will be closed or partially closed to traffic effective Monday as the city tries to help retailers and restaurant owners cope with the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The outdoor dining and retail street closures program will affect all of Wharf and Dana streets and Milk Street, between Exchange and Market streets. Fore Street, on the southeast side of Boothby Square, between Pearl and Silver streets, will also be closed to traffic. Traffic on Middle Street will be adjusted to one-way only to allow businesses to operate in the public right-of-way, similar to how they did in 2020. The street closures will remain in effect through Nov. 1. Commercial vehicles will be allowed to access those streets prior to 11 a.m. in order to make deliveries.

Exchange Street, which the city closed last year, will remain open to traffic this year.

Jessica Grondin, spokeswoman for the city, said the outdoor dining program will allow retailers and restaurants to apply to expand into public spaces including closed streets, parklets, the public right of way, and parks. As of Friday, 57 businesses had applied for permits. The goal is to help small businesses by giving them more outside space to operate in successfully and safely while complying with social distancing guidelines.

Grondin explained that the program applies to the entire city and not just the streets that are closed in the Old Port area. However, a business must apply for a permit through the city. Plans to place furniture or other elements on the street must be reviewed and approved by the city’s Department of Permitting and Inspections.


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