Select Board Extends Outdoor Dining, if State Agrees

March 17, 2023

The Bedford Select Board on Monday approved extending regulations permitting outdoor dining in restaurants – contingent on the Massachusetts Legislature voting similar approval, expected before the end of the month.

State requirements were relaxed in response to the pandemic, and for Bedford businesses. “This program has worked out pretty well,” said Town Manager Sarah Stanton. Although the state extension is pending, “We want to make sure there’s no gap.”

Stanton pointed out that the outdoor configurations must be safe and accessible, accommodating fire lanes and hydrants, as well as pedestrian passages and spacing. The Fire and Code Enforcement Departments verify these requirements, she said. 

“We want applications to be ready to go on April 1,” pending state approval of the extension, Stanton said, noting that the town has waived application fees. She said most of the restaurants who have added outdoor seating “assume they are just going to stay in place,” and her office is “trying to work with some others” who have yet to try.

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