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Many Options On the Table For Outdoor Restaurant Seating in Peoria

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Ashley Alfaro cleans a table with disinfectant before diners are seated at Centro Cocina Mexicana restaurant in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, May 22, 2020.

The city of Peoria will likely temporarily allow restaurants and bars to set up outdoor seating on private property, sidewalks, or even the street. Draft guidelines released Friday by the city provide a framework for the businesses to reopen next Friday under Gov. J.B. Pritzker's newly broadened third phase of his "Restore Illinois" reopening plan.

"These would be standards that our restaurants could follow, that if they could meet that, they would have no requirement to come in and provide any kind of permitting for the city or get any kind of permit. They would just simply be allowed to go forward and do this," said Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich.

Seating can be set up on private property with the permission of the property owner.

Sidewalk seating must leave at least four feet available for foot traffic. The city would also require restaurants to clean and maintain the sidewalk dining area, and to sign a liability waiver holding the city harmless. Street seating can be coordinated with Peoria Public Works.

In all three scenarios, there are some basic safety requirements, such as leaving fire lanes, hydrants, and sprinkler system connections accessible. A visual boundary of the seating area must be crafted using planters, caution tape, or another marker. No new structures such as tents can be built.

Businesses must also provide outdoor handwashing or sanitizing, outdoor trash cans, and a route into the restroom area.

Businesses will be restricted to operating between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Existing liquor license holders can serve alcohol in the outdoor seating area after notifying the Peoria City Clerk's office. There are no governmental fees associated with setting up outdoor seating.

Urich said the Peoria Park District will also lease picnic tables to restaurants or taverns for additional seating.

The Peoria City Council is set to adopt the guidelines at its meeting next Tuesday.

Unincorporated Peoria County's guidelines are nearly identical. Peoria County Administrator Scott Sorrel said the one large difference will be street seating. He said there's a relative lack of available spaces in the county, but said the Peoria County Highway Department will work with restaurant owners to find the appropriate road authority, such as the Illinois Department of Transportation, to get permission to set up.

The county board's health committee will discuss the guidelines next week. The county board is set to take up the measures on June 11.

"What we're looking to do is just make sure we're doing it safely. We look at this as a short-term period of time, so hopefully just over the next few weeks, and then we'll be able to get back to having people eat indoors, as well," said Urich.

Other municipalities within Peoria County will need to adopt their own plans.

Click here to read the guidelines.

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