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Coronavirus: Calgary to allow shops, restaurants to expand patios to allow for social distancing

Calgary shops, restaurants get to expand patios to allow for more social distancing during COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH: Calgary city council has voted to allow businesses to open pop-up patios to allow for more capacity amidst COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.
Calgary city council approved a plan on Monday to allow city shops and restaurants to expand their businesses onto sidewalks and streets.
It comes as good news for restaurant owners like Stephen Deere who has mixed emotions about plans to reopen.
“I don’t think there’s any winner in being the first one open in this case,” said the owner of two Modern Steak locations in Calgary.
One thing Deere is certain about is his support of the city’s plan to allow for pop-up patios.
Restaurants will be able to allow their seating to spill over to sidewalks and streets outside their doors, helping to make up for the fact they will only be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
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“It’s a great way to compensate the tables we lost inside by having them outside, so I think this is a great plan and I really hope the city fast-tracks this like they did with the liquor laws, and get out of the way and let us do what we need to do,” Deere said.
“I’m hoping this happens as soon as possible.”
LISTEN BELOW: City council approves plan for restaurants to expand business onto sidewalks
The temporary pop-up patios would mean the loss of some parking spaces, but the head of a local business group says parking demand and street traffic volume is down anyway.
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“I also think our crowds won’t be huge, and although people often say there’s no parking in Kensington, there is,” said Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington Business Improvement Area.
“Our occupancy is only ever in good times at about 80 per cent capacity, so there will be somewhere to park if you want to drive down here, even if we sacrifice some parking sections in order to put those patios out there.”
Deere wants to take the concept a step further to make a three-block section of Stephen Avenue closed off to vehicles to create a barrier-free outdoor dining experience.
“Close it off to any street traffic and then have the patios be able to expand into the road,” he said. “It would become very much, in my mind, like being in Barcelona and that would be the best thing possible.”
The Calgary establishments that already have patio licences won’t be charged fees this year, and those that want to open a new patio won’t have to pay permit fees.
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Applicants for the pop-up patios would have to maintain public access to sidewalks and have proper insurance.
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