As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and his staff are trying new ways to keep people safe, while at the same time allowing restaurants to remain open.
On Dec. 2, Ducey issued an executive order easing the restrictions on outdoor dining, enabling restaurateurs to add additional seating beyond what is normally allowed.
According to the governor’s office, restaurants could not previously extend their premises temporarily and they were limited to the amount of space for which they could extend their premises. The existing barriers resulted in longer wait times for customers and a more onerous process for getting approval. Ducey’s new order provides temporary extensions, but only after approval from the local governing body.
“With COVID-19 cases rising in Arizona and across the nation, we must remain vigilant,” Ducey said during the news conference. “Many Arizonans and businesses have acted responsibly for many months to fight the spread of the virus, and we can’t ease up now.”
Sedona Assistant City Manager and Community Development Director Karen Osburn said the city of Sedona is willing to work with local restaurants on this issue, as it has with others during the pandemic. But, she stressed that local restaurants must contact the city before proceeding because it’s not a free-for-all.
“We don’t have anything formal or structured in place but are willing to work with businesses on a case-by-case basis to evaluate their property for extensions of premise while COVID is in play,” she said late last week. “We are supportive of these efforts and happy to assist in any way we can. Surprisingly, we haven’t had many inquiries, but like I said, we are very willing to work with businesses.”
The state is also providing an initial investment of $1 million to help restaurants and other dining establishments expand outdoor dining options, further protecting patrons and staff and making more space for customers.
The funding will support the launch of the Safest Outside Restaurant Assistance Program, funding up to $10,000 per restaurant for items they need to extend their outdoor dining premise, including outdoor furniture, barriers, patio heaters, patio covers and more.
Funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis for eligible businesses that have been approved for an extension of premises. To be eligible, applicants must comply with all COVID-related executive orders.
Those eligible for this funding must meet the follow criteria:
Licensed restaurants and bars serving food.
Fewer than 50 employees.
Must comply with all COVID-related executive orders.
Must demonstrate a new extension of premises that has been approved by the local city or county and the Arizona Department of Liquor Licensing and Control (if applicable).
Sedona restaurants looking to expand are encouraged to contact the Community Development Department at City Hall or call 282-1154 for questions or more information.