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Australia Street Dining Safety with MERIDIAN Barriers

“From Tampa to Tulsa, Seattle to Syracuse and Brooklyn to Burlington, cities are embracing parklets like never before,” writes Andrew Hirschfeld in OZY. “Urban designers, city planners and architecture firms alike are scrambling to come up with innovative designs for parklets, prompting competitions like the Design for Distancing planning initiative in Baltimore, Maryland, focused on outdoor spaces.”

There’s certainly some pushback. While many are sympathetic to the plight of small restaurants, city residents have been patiently turning a blind eye to the loss of parking, loading zones and the intrusion of their walkways while busy restaurant employees run back and forth with plates of food. Street closures will create traffic problems once traffic returns. People with disabilities are already complaining about added hazards. Some will want things to get back to how they were before the virus. But those concerns don’t seem to be stopping a movement in many areas of the country towards making permanent what was originally thought to be a temporary arrangement.

Dallas city council is considering a plan to allow many restaurants who have moved their operations to the streets to stay there. Los Angeles and Boston’s leaders are also discussing similar plans. Cincinnati’s leaders have approved a plan to convert a temporary outdoor dining program into a permanent feature. Writers and restaurant industry experts are voicing support for other cities to do the same.

I’m one of them. Outdoor dining should be made permanent. City residents like me will adapt and be better off for it. As for restaurant owners, permanent outdoor dining would be a new channel of revenue that, if made permanent in 2021, could make up for some of the losses they’ve incurred in 2020. And it will also provide opportunities for architects, construction contractors, engineers, supply manufacturers and other small businesses who will seek to serve these needs. And guess what? We have Covid to thank for it.

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