In a news announcement this week, the city of Allentown in partnership with the Allentown Area Chamber of Commerce and the Allentown Parking Authority is extending business expansion opportunities for restaurants, bars and cafés where food and/or beverages may be served.
Temporary Outdoor Seating Areas (TOSAs) will assist businesses with serving more customers while complying with mandatory requirements of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine’s Phased Reopening Plan covering Lehigh County.
Effective Friday, June 5, 2020, restaurants and retail food service businesses located in counties designated as being in the “yellow” phase are permitted to add dine-in service in outdoor seating areas so long as they strictly adhere to the requirements of the guidance, including maximum occupancy limits.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the requirement to socially distance have had a huge negative effect on a number of business units including bars and restaurants,” said Mayor Ray O’Connell. “We want to take positive steps to allow these establishments to rebuild their businesses and it is our intent to try to make it as easy as possible.”
The city will close some street blocks to assist in some expansion on Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Hamilton Street will be closed from Church Street to Seventh Street, from Seventh Street to 8th Street and from 8th Street to 9th Street. S. Lumber Street will be closed from Maple Street to Hamilton and S. Hall Street will be closed from Maple Street to Hamilton Street.
The street closures will enable the permitted establishments in those blocks to extend their footprints.
All existing restaurants, bars, and cafes with a valid certificate of occupancy from the city may apply for a TOSA permit. Successful applicants will be issued a permit placard by email. Placards must be printed by the applicant and posted in a visible location at the TOSA. The city is not charging any fees to review and process TOSA applications.
Permits require establishments to adhere to today’s social distancing requirements. Outdoor dining space should be arranged so that customers sitting at a table are not within six feet of any customers sitting at another table in any direction. At least six feet must be provided between parties at tables, (i.e., the six feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated guest). If tables or other seating are not movable, parties must be seated at least six feet apart. Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e. such that pedestrians on a sidewalk can pass with at least six feet of distance to customer).
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TOSA applications will be administratively reviewed by the Bureau of Planning & Zoning, the Bureau of Health, and the Department of Public Works. The city will issue a temporary approval in an expedited timeframe.
TOSA Permits may be revoked by the city at any time for non-compliance with TOSA Operation Requirements. The Allentown Health Bureau will respond to complaints that detail any violation to these requirements.
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