Ready for a night on the town? Tampa opens public space for added safe capacity
Social distance conceptual small business waiter serving customer in cafe

Social distance conceptual small business waiter serving customer in cafe.
Some roads will be blocked off for expanded outdoor dining and retail.

The city of Tampa is launching its Lift Up Local Economic Recovery Plan to support local businesses as they reopen Monday along with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ phase one portion of his reopening Florida plan.

The city’s first phase aligns with the Governor’s and allows restaurant dining rooms and retail establishments to open at 25% capacity and in open-air spaces with 6 feet of distance between groups.

To assist with the transition, the city is temporarily suspending some of its code and permit requirements for outdoor seating and activity to allow businesses to utilize public rights-of-way or privately owned sidewalks or parking facilities for restaurant seating or retail sales.

Operating on private land would still require approval from a landlord or property manager.

 “We want to lift up our local businesses through this recovery and empower them to re-open responsibly,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “By giving our local business owners as many tools and as much space as possible to safely serve guests, we can work together to protect our workforce, our customers, and our community. Our small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and we need their help to safely and successfully reopen our city and get back to all the things we love — one step at a time.”

The 14-day pilot project as part of the Governor’s phase one plan also allows businesses to use adjacent “parklets” on certain city spaces for retail sidewalk sales including on Swann Avenue between Oregon and Rome avenues.

The city is also designating cafe and retail zones on closed roads in seven concentrated areas.

Those include:

  E. Twiggs St. from N. Tampa St. to N. Franklin St.

— N. Franklin St. from E. Madison St. to E. Polk St.

— S. Dakota Ave/W. Snow Ave. from W. Swann Ave. to S. Rome Ave.

— E. 7th Ave from N. 15th St. to N. 19th St.

N. Franklin St. from E. Kay St. to E. Palm Ave.

— W. Grand Central Ave. from W. Kennedy Blvd. to S. Hyde Park Ave.

— S. Howard Ave. from W. Morrison Ave. to W. Bristol Ave.

Those zones will be blocked from traffic during the 14-day period for retail and dining use. The SoHo location will be blocked only during the dinner hours from 5 to 10 p.m. To use the zones, businesses must use a reservation system to avoid people congregating and loitering. Tables, as with the Governor’s orders, must be 6 feet apart and cannot be moved or reconfigured once in place.

Individuals in the zones must be there for dining or retail shopping and those not in compliance will be removed for safety purposes. Establishments that don’t comply will be blocked from future participation.

“By expanding outdoor capacity, the city hopes to support businesses in their efforts to re-open responsibly. These closures are not intended to create public gathering or social space. The Tampa Police Department will be patrolling these areas to prevent social gathering violations and the pilot program will be reassessed as needed,” an announcement from the city read.

In addition to social distancing guidelines, the city is requiring all “front of house” staff members at opened restaurants to wear facial coverings, and restaurants must use disposable paper menus and provide easily accessible hand sanitizer.

The city is also encouraging contactless ordering and payment options.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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