A bill to allow permanent outdoor dining in Rhode Island is headed to Governor Dan McKee's desk for his signature.
Representative Carol Hagan McEntee sponsored the legislation, which bars cities and towns from banning restaurants or cafes from setting up outside accommodations.
Local communities may still regulate public safety and noise ordinances.
“In the dark days of the pandemic, expansion of outdoor dining across the state proved to be a bright spot that brought our communities back together on those warm summer nights to enjoy one of Rhode Island’s finest assets – our culinary and hospitality community. And make no mistake about it, outdoor dining allowed countless restaurants and eateries to withstand and survive the struggles and uncertainties that COVID-19 brought to our state. Without outdoor dining, our diverse and world-renowned restaurant scene would look far different today and the state would have missed out on the millions of tax dollars that our tourism and hospitality industries generate yearly. We must look at the economic facts and listen to the voices of our residents and visitors alike which are clearly stating, it’s time to make this beloved practice permanent so that everyone can continue to enjoy outdoor dining in the Ocean State. Food, community and beautiful views, outdoor dining in the Ocean State is something we can’t lose.” said Representative McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).
Many restaurants set up outdoor dining during the pandemic, and owners say the effort in some cases saved their businesses.
(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)