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Boston will allow outdoor dining for an extra month, until Dec. 1

In Boston's North End, outdoor dining is everywhere on Hanover Street, as are protective barriers.
In Boston's North End, outdoor dining is everywhere on Hanover Street, as are protective barriers.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Boston restaurants can continue hosting outdoor diners until Dec. 1 under an extension that Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced Tuesday.

The outdoor dining season had been scheduled to end Oct. 31. However, it was extended by a month to better support restaurants during the COVID-19 health emergency, according to a statement from the city.

“Restaurants have faced incredible challenges during this ongoing public health crisis, and the City of Boston is committed to helping them survive and succeed, including by giving restaurants more flexibility around outdoor dining,” Walsh said in the statement.

The extension, which applies to outdoor operations on both public and private property, comes after the city rolled out an initiative in the spring to make it easier for eateries without patios to temporarily offer al fresco dining by expanding onto sidewalks or streets. Eating outdoors may help prevent the spread of COVID-19, make customers feel more safe, and help businesses that face limits on indoor dining.

Although restaurants using public property must end their outdoor service by Dec. 1, those operating on private property can continue al fresco operations for the duration of the health emergency, city officials said.

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Of course, outdoor dining will still depend on the weather. And since the air in Boston is getting chillier, the city is waiving application fees for businesses that apply to use outdoor propane heaters.

“Obviously, outdoor dining is weather-dependent here in New England, and at some point snowplows might get in the way. But I’ve gotten some assurances from meteorologists around the Commonwealth that we’ll have a mild fall and hopefully a mild winter,” Walsh said at Tuesday’s news conference. “So please keep it up so we can help our restaurants.”

Walsh also said safety regulations for the heaters will remain “100 percent in place.” Restaurants can use electric heaters without a permit, as long as no cords cross the sidewalk, Walsh said.

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“We’re trying to help our restaurants take advantage of outdoor space as long as possible,” he said.

Restaurants interested in applying for space under the temporary outdoor dining program can still do so on the city’s website.

A full list of restaurants with outdoor dining is available on boston.gov.


Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss