Boston Restaurants Getting New Lifeline for Outdoor Dining in Fall, Winter

Outdoor dining has flourished amid the coronavirus pandemic and let many restaurants keep an important source of income open

John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images, File

After a summer where outdoor dining saved many Boston restaurants, the city is offering help for those that want to extend the outdoor dining season even while the weather gets cold.

Boston's Reopen Boston Fund is offering up to $3,000 grants to help restaurants cover equipment that will help them stay open in the fall and winter, the city said Wednesday. The grants can be used to buy things like heaters, propane, storage equipment and outdoor seating and tables.

"As we head into the cooler months, we want to support the restaurants and businesses that bring so much to our neighborhoods," Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement. "Restaurants have continued to face incredible challenges during this pandemic, and we remain committed to supporting them, whether it's through expanded outdooring dining, or additional funding."

Indoor dining was banned when the coronavirus pandemic hit Massachusetts, and even now that it's come back with some limits, many diners are uncomfortable eating inside. But outdoor dining has flourished and let many restaurants keep an important source of income open.

Earlier this month, Walsh extended the outdoor dining season in Boston, saying the city wanted "to help our restaurants continue to take advantage of our outdoor space as long as possible."

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The outdoor dining season in Boston was initially supposed to end Oct. 31, but restaurants will be able to keep tables on sidewalks and behind barriers in parking spots until at least Dec. 1.

The Reopen Boston Fund was launched in May to help boost small businesses. It has so far distributed more than $2.5 million to 1,325 businesses for help buying personal protective equipment.

To qualify for the outdoor dining equipment grant, restaurants must have no more than 25 employees and have been approved for the extended outdoor dining season, the city said. Applications can be found here.

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