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* Hampton City News

Posted on: May 15, 2020

Hampton to close block of Queens Way to make space for outdoor dining

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May 15, 2020 - Beginning today, restaurants with outdoor seating are allowed to seat customers there, at least at half capacity. However, those outdoor seating areas in Hampton are pretty limited.

To allow more people to dine outdoors with social distancing, City Manager Mary Bunting announced on Facebook Live Thursday evening that the city is would consider closing one block each of Queens Way and Mellen Street to traffic (see map) to allow restaurants to secure temporary outdoor dining permits there, beginning Monday. 

Queens Way is currently blocked off, as at least one restaurant has a pending permit. Mellen Street was briefly closed but reopened since there are no permits in the queue.

“City Council is very proactive and creative in supporting solutions for local businesses, as well as local customers,” Bunting said after the broadcast.

Bunting said the applications that restaurants would need to fill out would be a short form and available on the city’s website on Monday for the permit, for which there is no cost.  She expects approval to be a quick process also.

Restaurants who want to serve alcohol in the expanded outdoor areas would also need to apply to the Virginia ABC, which has also said approval will be an expedited process.

Bunting noted that while both Queens Way and Mellen Street have popular rows of restaurants clustered together, similar opportunities exist for other businesses. Depending on location, they can seek the use of sidewalks or expanded areas in shopping centers with the permission of the landlord. 

The state has set up strict guidelines that restaurants must follow. In addition to between diners, there are rules about cleaning and sanitizing between customers, using disposable menus, and other efforts to minimize the spread of the virus.

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