Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

March 23, 2022

Senate Ensures Outdoor Dining Can Continue Without Interruption Through 2023

Today, Senate Democrats passed legislation ensuring outdoor dining, a practice that grew in popularity during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic allowing restaurants to safely offer their services, will continue without interruption through 2023. In doing so, an initial target for municipalities to allow outdoor dining in perpetuity was shifted from this year to 2023, a precaution taken due to the continued uncertainty posed by rapidly shifting pandemic dynamics.

“During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially before vaccinations were made available, outdoor dining stood as a safer way for diners to eat and an important revenue source for restaurants during dire times,” said State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor). “I’m encouraged that we will leave this option on the table for restaurants to utilize for another year – in addition to safety during the pandemic, outdoor dining has been a boon for many community locations like Evergreen Walk, spurring activity and interest.”

House Bill 5271, “An Act Concerning The Provision Of Outdoor Food and Beverage Services and Outdoor Displays of Goods,” extends laws passed last year to allow the continuation of outdoor dining and retail activities initially authorized during the pandemic. Those laws are extended through April 30, 2023. On May 1, 2023, businesses seeking to continue outdoor dining operations would need to seek local approval.

“The temporary outdoor dining permit was a valuable tool in getting us through the pandemic and it will continue to play a vital part in helping the brewery get back on its feet over the next year,” said Heath Gelinas and Alan Bukowinski, owners of Problem Solved Brewing Company in East Windsor. “We want to thank Senator Anwar for his work on getting bill 5271 passed. This will be a big step forward for all breweries and food establishments that established temporary outdoing areas during the pandemic. Our patrons will be happy to hear that the patio space will continue to happen when the weather cooperates.”

Studies and surveys show that outdoor dining as an option has shown strong benefits for restaurants and demand for restaurant patrons. The National Restaurant Association reported in October 2021 that, as the Delta variant spread across the United States in early fall 2021, nearly 10% more restaurants offered outdoor dining than in prior months. Restaurants found that outdoor dining comprised a significant swath of sales – 60% of restaurants saw at least 21% of sales coming from outdoor dining – and 71% of fullservice restaurants saw increased customer demand for outdoor seating.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put additional pressures on small businesses, especially restaurants,” said East Windsor First Selectman Jason E. Bowsza. “One of the good things that came out of the pandemic is more access to outdoor dining. Earlier this month, East Windsor passed outdoor dining regulations as a means of supporting our restaurant industry and expanding tourism opportunities. Passage of HB 5271 extends that same option to local restaurants around Connecticut.”

Outdoor dining is a valuable tool to aid restaurants as the pandemic continues to cause tumult in the industry. As of March 2021, more than 10% of restaurants in the United States had closed permanently, impacting millions; flexible options like outdoor dining allow businesses to diversify their offerings and appeal to cautious diners. Many downtown and central areas of towns saw outdoor offerings bring new foot traffic and interest as well.