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Richmond Looks At Expanding Outdoor Space For Businesses During Coronavirus Recovery

mayor levar stoney speaking at a podium
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaking at Tuesday's press conference at Diversity Thrift. (Crixell Matthews/VPM)

When Richmond businesses begin reopening they may have expanded patios and outdoor seating.

At a COVID-19 testing event at Diversity Thrift on Tuesday, Mayor Levar Stoney announced that he’s putting together a task force to assist businesses in getting expedited permits for outdoor seating. These kinds of permits must usually go through a lengthy review process by city agencies and Richmond City Council. 

Stoney said the city is committed to advocating for its small businesses at the federal level and here at home.

“We’re exploring how to utilize public space as productively as possible, without endangering public health,” he said.

Stoney is encouraging businesses interested in outdoor expansion to apply through  the RVAStrong.org website.

Stoney says he’s also asking Richmond City Council to start discussions with merchant and neighborhood associations -- about turning streets near business districts into open streets or pedestrian malls to encourage social distancing. 

He said city council staff would be most equipped to find equitable solutions in their districts.

“By working with local associations, council members will be able to bring forward optimal opportunities for the creative use of streets, sidewalks and public spaces that are logistically feasible and have community buy-in,” Stoney said in a statement.

Last week, Governor Ralph Northam approved a request from Stoney to delay Richmond’s move into Phase One of reopening. Non-essential businesses are expected to remain closed until at least May 29.

 

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