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Grand Rapids extends social zones through May 2021

Social zones were created to allow restaurants to use outdoor dining spaces in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tuesday, Grand Rapids City Commissioners approved a resolution to extend social zones through May 31, 2021. 

Social zones were created in the city to allow restaurants to have more outdoor seating, as indoor options were limited due to executive orders. 

"It will help businesses get through a full season with some confidence as they make investments and things that are needed to be outdoors in the wintertime," said Lou Canfield, the City's Development Center Manager. 

RELATED: Colder months could lead to 4,000 Michigan restaurants permanently closing, report says

The resolution also made some adjustments to social zones to make them compatible for winter. It included snow plowing requirements, allowing for heaters and temporary shelter structures. 

Canfield said this is a way to show Grand Rapids supports local businesses. 

"It’s not totally clear what’s going to happen to the virus in the winter months, but we know the tendency will be for more people to spend time indoors," said Canfield. "At the same time, restaurant occupancy and bars can’t be open for indoor service, it at least gives restaurants another option to maintain their customer base and employment and make it through the winter."

Canfield said at least one restaurant downtown has already installed heaters, and a few others are making plans to add some. 

Not ready to give up evenings on the patio? Us either.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ We have installed multiple heaters to make sure the temperature is comfortable even on cooler nights!

Posted by Luna GR on Friday, September 25, 2020

Luna, a Mexican restaurant downtown, installed heaters last week for outside diners. In a statement, Mario Cascante said:

"We’re hopeful that our heaters will be able to provide a comfortable and safe environment for our guests to dine outdoors as the weather cools.  We are grateful to the City of Grand Rapids, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., and the Downtown Development Authority is helping pave the way.  The expansion of outdoor dining downtown into the cooler months is one of the many ways that the leadership in Grand Rapids has excelled in helping us navigate the pandemic."

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