Baltimore County will close a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue in Towson to vehicle traffic on weekends to allow restaurants to expand outdoor seating into the street, county officials announced Wednesday.
Starting this weekend, the county will close Pennsylvania Avenue from York Road to Washington Avenue from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays as part of their Seats on the Streets initiative with the Towson Chamber of Commerce. Restaurants will be able to seat diners in the street from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on the weekends.
The program will last through the end of the month and may be extended past June, officials said.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. called the initiative “an important first step” in helping local businesses recover from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Baltimore County’s restaurants and bars make our neighborhoods more vibrant and are vital to our local economy,” Olszewski said. “We’re excited to begin Baltimore County’s first Seats on the Streets program in Towson this weekend to ensure residents can safely enjoy some of their favorite places to eat.”
Charles Village Pub & Patio, C&R Pub, Nacho Mama’s Towson, The Point Towson and Slice NY Pizza Pasta & Grill will be offering expanded outdoor dining along the closed portion of Pennsylvania Avenue.
All participating restaurants must follow local, state and federal health guidelines and requirements to support the safety of customers and staff.
Customers must also follow health guidelines, including social distancing and wearing a mask when they are not seated and eating.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that on-site dining poses a greater risk of spreading coronavirus compared to other methods of food service, including drive-through, delivery, take-out and curbside pick-up. However, outdoor dining with social distancing measures in place poses a lower risk than indoor dining, according to the CDC.
In addition to the Seats on the Street initiative on Pennsylvania Avenue, the county is also issuing conditional approval for businesses to expand outdoor dining into parking lots and other outdoor spaces on their property.
Businesses can apply for an outdoor table service permit on the county’s website.
Nancy Hafford, executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, praised the Seats on the Street initiative and the county’s work to expedite approvals of outdoor dining applications.
“We are so grateful to work with the County for this first-of-its-kind event and appreciate that that they have fast-tracked our restaurants’ applications to make this happen,” Hafford said. “Our businesses are looking forward to seeing their customers and getting more of their employees back to work, while keeping people safe.”
Baltimore County will also resume enforcement of parking meters starting at 9 a.m. on June 12. The county temporarily suspended parking meters in March.
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