Joan Hartley

State Senator

Joan Hartley

Chief Deputy President Pro Tempore

An Independent Voice

March 23, 2022

Sen. Hartley Votes to Ensure Outdoor Dining Can Continue Without Interruption Through 2023

Today, State Senator Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury, Middlebury and Naugatuck), joined in passing 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.

“Outdoor dining has been a vital tool for restaurants across the greater Waterbury region in staying afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, while taking precautions to protect the health of employees and customers” said Sen. Hartley. “This continued flexibility for restaurants to have outdoor dining will afford them a greater chance to recover profit losses caused by the pandemic and scale-up their businesses during these next few warmer months.”

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 full-service restaurants saw increased customer demand for outdoor seating.

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.