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Boston to let restaurants keep patios open until at least Dec. 1 - and will waive fees for registering propane heaters

The Boston Licensing Board today released new regulations that let restaurants that have permission to create patios on sidewalks and parking spaces due to Covid-19 can keep them open through at least Dec. 1 - and that restaurants with permanent patios can keep them running as long as the heaters and their patrons can hold out.

Use of sidewalk and street space for temporary patios is subject to weather - they will have to be taken up should a large enough snowstorm hit and public-works crews have to come through with plows. Restaurants have to apply for a permit to use a propane heater, but the city will waive its normal permit fees.

In the Before Times, restaurant patios in Boston were supposed to shut by Nov. 1.

The board says it will consider extensions past Dec. 1 on a case by case basis - unless it decides to extend the deadline even further across the city.

Latest outdoor-patio regulations.

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Comments

Why would there be a fee for a permit to use a propane heater? Just include it in the regular restaurant inspection process.

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That's ridiculous

Without looking it up, I would imagine the Fire Department deals with heaters.

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can be pretty nasty. I don't know that a restaurant would be stupid enough to do this, but it would make for some pretty bad headlines if someone lighting a cigarette blewup a patio seating area because of escaping gas that wasn't ventilated correctly.

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What the propane concentration in the air would need to be to create an explosion from lighting a cigarette? It would take a lot more than even a bunch of simultaneously leaking propane tanks

I was just thinking today that someone entrepreneurial other than myself could invent a Jersey barrier that circulates heat with hot water or some other method as apparently the propane heaters are frowned upon, plus they don’t really work that well. In Korea they just put up plastic tents for the locals who refuse to drink indoors but those are some hardy folks who’s leadership isn’t from a TV circus and they know how to deal with a pandemic without bankrupting every social institution and allowing hundreds of thousands of their countrymen to die alone while focusing on how to best erase democracy but I digress.

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Is essentially the same thing as drinking indoors..

Tents with heaters, but the tents are only 3.5' high, with holes for your head to stick out and then some of those biolab type arm sleeves. Your core stays warm and you can still support your local restos.

why would it be included in the regular fee when it's not a universal item. Also they're waiving so....

This is kinda like that ice bar that was open in Fanueil hall a few years ago where you had to wear a winter jacket, hat and gloves to enter. I never made it there before it closed.....

Having lived in California- where they have those outdoor heaters- and they don't do much once the temperature gets into the 50's- the idea people will want to eat outside in Eastern MA on November 30th under regular conditions is magical/ wishful thinking from Baker, Walsh, et al- the comments Baker and Medford's Lungo-Koehn made last week about snow removal and outdoor dining were the most ludicrous I've heard yet

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- Plus your food is going to be cold with in 5 minute of hitting the table.

- Plus it gets gusty in the fall, doesn’t it?

- Plus we are now coercing servers to work outdoors in cooler/cold weather for perhaps less volume/money and no additional allowances made for spending on uniform improvements for keeping warm outside.

Let’s pretend there is a whole cadre of us adventurous enough to try 48F outdoor dining once. How many will be willing to do it again, let alone repeatedly?

It’s nice that the government is putting *some* thought into helping restaurants, but this move is the bare minimum and our municipal, state, and federal governments are devoid of vision and perhaps apathetic when it comes to restaurant survival through COVID.

It’s nice that the government is putting *some* thought into helping restaurants, but this move is the bare minimum and our municipal, state, and federal governments are devoid of vision and perhaps apathetic when it comes to restaurant survival through COVID.

I don't disagree, but I don't see a viable option where restaurants pretend to operate other than takeout. So...direct aid?

Either:

A.) Pay restaurants to stay closed and pay workers to stay home

or

B.) Standby in denial of the inevitable and watch the continuation of this mass-casualty event of restaurants asphyxiating.

It looks like we are choosing option B, but these half-assed measures are designed for the “look, we tried!” excuse that have an air of plausibility to those not paying attention.

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"The board says it will consider extensions past Dec. 1 on a case by case basis"

Why? To justify their jobs?

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they have to make sure this doesn't contribute to the spread, that the state isn't back to increasing and high rates of transfer, etc. the permitting process is the only way the state has to keep the restaurants from breaking the law - it's actually a good thing. And before you ask incredulously how I would know, I'm an engineer in the construction business and withholding permits (or at least our approval and stamp for the application of a permit) is the only way to get compliance with little things like fire codes, means of egress, etc. If you don't think that's important, ask the people who went to the concert at the Station what they think.

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"Use of sidewalk and street space for temporary patios is subject to weather - they will have to be taken up should a large enough snowstorm hit and public-works crews have to come through with plows."

Ok, but what does that have to do with permits? It’s not like the bureaucracy is quick enough to amend the patio permit end date after a storm is predicted.

Doesn’t the food on the plate get cold if you take your time eating? I don’t eat quick like George Costanza

The raw food industry is going to see huge returns this year.

I await the MIT grad who shows up to explain how much the outside temperature will really affect your food temperature, but for now, I'll just point out that there's been a number of restaurants in the Boston area and further north who will serve you food outdoors in the late fall or early spring and let you deal with the effects of your food getting a little too cold before you finish eating.

Can I use my propane heater as a space saver?

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Insert Applause Emoji Here

If the patio is on private property I say let restaurants have them up until its not worth it anymore. If the patio is on public property why not just say extension up until the first predicted snowfall? Why put a date of December 1 unless you need to? Most patios will have closed up by then but if they are open that means they have been a success.

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can come as early as late October. At least the Dec 1 date gives businesses some reassurance of a longer time frame, which can help as they decide whether the effort and expense of propane heaters (and whatever else they need to do differently in cold weather) is worth implementing.

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There was barely any snow in Boston the last two winters. Keep the patios open all year.

Seriously K? No. Not serious.

There was barely any snow in Boston the last two winters.

So of course there will be "barely any snow" this year.

Is this a parody account?

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Boston most often doesn't get early snow. It averages around 50" total for the winter the last 10 years (which is influenced by one really bad winter). If we want restaurants to survive, allow people to sit outside as long and as much as possible. Come up with a plan to clear outdoor seating for plowing/shoveling purposes. People sit outside in northern Europe and eat dinner at restaurants, surely the hearty New Englanders here can handle it?

If we want restaurants to survive, allow people to sit outside as long and as much as possible.

So let's be clear: you're pursuing the goal of allowing people to sit outside as long and as much as possible, based on the premise that doing so will save restaurants. Honestly, I think you need to show your work on this one.

People sit outside in northern Europe and eat dinner at restaurants, surely the hearty New Englanders here can handle it?

Got a cite on that? Like, sitting outdoors in 25 degree weather?

Why should the city say no patios because it might snow? Especially since it can snow before December 1 or November 1 or any reasonable date in the fall.

The city should allow them, and it should be up to the business to decide when it's too snowy to keep using it.

once they let customers in, it's the state's and the city's business. Just like you can't add candles and electric resistance heaters to a basement storage room and rent it out like as a "cosy studio" - you need a certificate of occupancy to let the public into your private property and you don't get one of those until you comply with life/safety codes. Anything pertaining to combustion is covered by that.

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I wouldn't invest in too much propane.

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You know, like the ones that dont have an election November 3rd and still claim to be suffering from the effects of the coronavirus? Or all those all in the same Democratic plot?

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Cause COVID-19 is a world wide hoax for the US election, hyuk hyuk hyuk, good one, Pesce.

Almost as good as when you made racist comments about an unrelated Rick Ross concert in the area of a murdered BLS Alum. That was a good one, too.

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...that should be banned, or you're the sort of wilfully ignorant disinformation-spreader who will not get the message until someone near and dear to you gets seriously ill, and who will not care how many other people (9000 in this state, 200000 across the country) die on the altar to your diseased god. May you richly reap what you sow.

Whether it is allowed or not, that doesn't mean that it's safe. What they're seeing right now is that people who are currently testing positive for COVID are 2x as likely to have eaten indoors at a restaurant recently. So I suspect that many people would prefer to eat outside as long as possible since the risk is much lower.

And just so you don't think this is fake news, Fox News reported it as well:
https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/people-covid-19-eating-restaurants-tw...

The sample size is also frankly kind of tiny, considering the question (64 control vs 44 case patients). That seems a bit... underpowered to me.

There’s also the question of correlation vs causation here. I’m not eating out (and desperately miss it) and I’m also wearing a KN95, bleaching my groceries, and haven’t seen more than ten people besides my GF since March. Meanwhile when I walk around Southie I see people sitting at bars indoors, some of them in the Social Security demographic. No judgment, but my guess is that if you compared us, eating in restaurants is far from the only difference in our risk profiles.

Not to mention this is all based on people’s responses. Almost all in both groups report wearing a mask “always,” to which I call horse feathers.

CFD modeling shows that one person coughing without a mask on will expose people beyond the 6 foot zone (HVAC engineer here) in an open indoor space. With both the cougher and the rest of the seated occupants not wearing masks, there's a greater chance of catching it. With most other indoor spaces, most people have masks on, greatly reducing transmission. The statistical rise also started corresponding to the reopening of indoor eating so yes I think there is a direct link and will not be eating indoors again for the duration. Masks on when you're inside. Even at your desk (modeling I saw was for an open office plan - the occupants were exposed to the infected droplets before they even were filtered by the air systems).

Seems to me and many that the state is trying hard to destroy many small businesses with their regulations!

This is your response to news that Boston is relaxing regulations?

Best outdoor eating in Boston. No tent. No heaters. Sit in the sun in the lee of the fort. Dress appropriately for the day.

Which is why Sullivan's closes every winter.

They’re open March (or late February) through November. That’s impressive for an outdoor restaurant

But suffice to say, typically no visits to Sullivan's in the snow.