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Covington Extends Outdoor Dining Expansion Through New Year, Will Allow Heaters

The City of Covington will continue to allow expanded outdoor dining through January 2.

The original order was set to expire at the end of October.

Covington, like many other local governments, expanded outdoor dining opportunities for restaurants, including some spaces on streets, to accommodate more patrons during the COVID-19 pandemic in which people are encouraged to be outdoors if in public.

In Mainstrasse Village, Up Over Bar has additional tables that allow twenty people to sit in front of it each night.

Owner Amy Kummler is glad for the extension.

"People are much more comfortable sitting outside and not being enclosed," Kummler said. "It's a really big deal that the city lets us do this."

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer signed a new executive order extending the city's #RecoverCovington campaign that includes carving out outdoor dining and drinking areas, using sidewalks, alleys, parking spots, and other public spaces.

With colder weather approaching, restaurants will be allowed to place heaters in these areas, though they will have to reapply for permission.

"Restaurants and bars have really been able to capitalize on this additional outdoor space, and we want to continue to help them do so," said Josh Rhodes, a former restaurant manager hired by the city to serve as a liaison with the industry during the pandemic. "Their struggle to survive doesn't end with the end of summer."

Restaurants looking to add heaters should contact the city about reapplying.

Almost forty restaurants and bars in Covington have been approved for outdoor dining under the ReCov program, said City of Covington executive assistant Elizabeth Glass, who coordinates special event permits and outdoor seating licenses in the City Manager's office.

"That number includes bars and restaurants that previously had outdoor seating (but have had to spread out the seats to adhere to the 6-foot rule) and those with entirely new table areas created specially because of the pandemic," Glass said.

As part of ReCov campaign, the city and businesses are also enforcing rules that protect employees by requiring face coverings to be worn when people are moving around, every patron to have a seat at a table to get food and drink service, and customers not in the same group to socially distance.

The rules are designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky and prevent more stringent rules from being handed down.

"We were shut down for three and a half months, and then again for that two weeks (in the summer)," Kummler said. "We can't afford to be shut down again."

-Staff report

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