The office of Mayor Cantrell has announced an official extension to the NOLA Department of Safety and Permits's lax parking regulations for restaurants and bars that are recognized by the Louisiana Department of Health as valid establishments. Until December 31 of this year, venues dealing in food and drink will be able to receive Sidewalk Use Permits to allow them to expand their outdoor seating areas. Additionally, off-street parking regulations will not be enforced until the aforementioned cutoff date, which grants eateries and taverns alike the usually restricted privilege of converting private parking spaces into dining areas. No extra permit or qualification will be necessary for parking space conversions; however, the spaces must be owned or at least leased by the business using them. The ability to use parking lots and sidewalks for outdoor seating will increase the overall amount of space a restaurant has to accommodate people while maintaining safe distance.
These privileges come with only small caveats. For obvious reasons, no modifications on the side of the food establishment can violate regulations set in place by the State Fire Marshal or disability accommodations. Strict social distancing is also expected of any venue taking advantage of this, but the entire reason this extension is happening in the first place is due to a need for better distancing. So, the large positives drastically outweigh any small negatives that might arise.
Sidewalk Use Permits will be supplied gratis and will be valid until December 31. This will be especially helpful to businesses that have managed to stay afloat thus far but are suffering due to reduced dining occupancy. While this may be too little, too late for certain establishments, any of them already benefiting from this lax regulation will be able to enjoy it for a few months more, at the least.