Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Towns should make space for restaurant reopenings

On Friday the state will allow restaurants to open, with restrictions. This has timed perfectly with nice weather. Perhaps it would help jumpstart the return by towns shutting down streets and allowing outdoor dining.
For example, in Bristol, the town could shut down Main Street from 4 until 8 p.m., rerouting traffic as they do during festivals like Pockock Rocks. For those four hours, restaurants then move their tables and chairs to the street. This allows for social distancing but, because the floor area has now grown, they can operate at maximum capacity. It adds a few steps and excludes restaurants that are not on the main drag, although some restaurants might choose to have a mobile restaurant with space on the street allocated to them. Other towns have the capacity to do this as well, if only in a limited capacity.
Having limited hours does a few things. It keeps major routes open during the busiest parts of the day. Those days can also be limited to days the collective of a town’s restaurants identify as their most busy. They can even cancel the re-route on days with inclement weather. As important, it can make it special, a “must go” date. Knowing that I can go only on certain days and hours, I will make it happen. On nice days, as it was this past weekend, I would think restaurants would be hopping.
Obviously, nothing is that easy. As many establishments have booths, they might need to find tables and chairs. As we are community, such items might be rented or donated by the local schools. For each issue there is a solution. The point is, the old ways are not available but we can, if we act as a community, push forward. Doing this, even as a trial, might give inspiration to other retail outlets to stay safe and open for business.
Tom Darling
Bristol
 

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