Alderman hopes to allow street, sidewalk seating for all St. Louis city restaurants


ST. LOUIS (KMOX/AP) - Bars and restaurants in the City of St. Louis would be able to get fast-track approval for outdoor dining, under a plan being pushed by downtown Alderman Jack Coatar.

The problem, he says, is not every business has the floor space to meet social distancing guidelines and still make a profit. The solution, he says, is to allow them to seat customers on the sidewalk or streets.

"I think this crisis, this pandemic is certainly life or death for a number of restaurants," Coatar says. "We've seen many close and I've heard from a number of restauranteurs who are asking, 'Hey, can we expand on to our sidewalk or into the street or into an adjacent parcel that maybe they have permission to use. So we're trying to make that process easier."

Coatar wants the city to waive the fees and create one simple form restaurants can sign to make the change. It would not require a vote by aldermen, just a bureaucratic change, so he hopes to make it happen in about a week.

Businesses such as restaurants, malls, offices and hotels will be allowed to reopen on May 18 and the city released guidelines for each type of business.

St. Louis continues to be the hardest-hit region in Missouri. State data shows that 53.4% of confirmed cases, and 70.4% of deaths, have occurred in St. Louis city and county combined.

The state health department reported 88 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 10,006, as of Tuesday afternoon.

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