Rep. McEntee’s outdoor dining bill passes House

McEntee says, “Food, community and beautiful views, outdoor dining in the Ocean State is something we can’t lose.”

 

            STATE HOUSE – Legislation (2024-H 7064A) sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee which establishes standards for municipalities to regulate outdoor dining was approved by the House of Representatives today.

            Representative McEntee, chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, has introduced several new laws that allowed outdoor dining since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

            “In the dark days of the pandemic, expansion of outdoor dining across the state proved to be a bright spot that brought our communities back together on those warm summer nights to enjoy one of Rhode Island’s finest assets – our culinary and hospitality community.  And make no mistake about it, outdoor dining allowed countless restaurants and eateries to withstand and survive the struggles and uncertainties that COVID-19 brought to our state.  Without outdoor dining, our diverse and world-renown restaurant scene would look far different today and the state would have missed out on the millions of tax dollars that our tourism and hospitality industries generate yearly.  We must look at the economic facts and listen to the voices of our residents and visitors alike which are clearly stating, it’s time to make this beloved practice permanent so that everyone can continue to enjoy outdoor dining in the Ocean State,” said Representative McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).

            The bill would allow municipalities to adopt ordinances that limit outdoor dining on public property; that limit capacity of outdoor dining; or that require barriers for outdoor dining areas that border parking lots or roadways.

            The legislation would not allow municipalities to pass ordinances that prohibit outdoor dining; that limit the time of year when outdoor dining may be offered; that restrict the hours of outdoor dining operations inconsistent with the food service establishment's existing licensure; or that require new parking capacity standards on a food service establishment for an outdoor dining area.

            The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration where Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham) has introduced the legislation. (2024-S 2028A).  Senator DiMario’s bill is scheduled for a Senate vote on Thursday of this week.

           

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