GR extends ‘social zones’ for businesses through fall

Coronavirus

A 2020 photo shows the “Social Zone” created on Bridge Street near Summer Avenue NW in Grand Rapids. (Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. via Twitter)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the big unknowns during the COVID-19 pandemic is when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will allow restaurants and bars to fully reopen.

With that in mind, Grand Rapids city leaders voted to extend the city’s “social zone” policy.

Social zones have allowed restaurants and bars to expand serving areas outside, in some cases onto city sidewalks and portions of streets.

The rules were set to expire at the end of May, but with Tuesday’s vote, social zones will now be allowed to operate until November.

“This will provide continued support for economic recovery for restaurants, bars and other neighborhood businesses,” said Lou Canfield with the city of Grand Rapids. “And also will provide some certainty as they make investments for the current outdoor dining season.”

Commissioners also passed a companion measure extending effective dates for permits used for business seating, tents and other equipment needed by business owners taking advantage of the zones.

More than 110 businesses have received special use permits for operating in social zones.

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