Friday, Madison rolled out the next phase of the Streatery Restaurant Recovery Program, which temporarily closed State Street to all vehicles over the weekend so restaurants could expand their outdoor seating areas to cope during the pandemic. 

The program will continue every weekend throughout the summer, closing State Street every Friday starting at 6:45 p.m. to vehicle traffic through August 23. Restaurants will be able to expand seating areas further down the sidewalk and into the street while State Street is closed.

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Restaurants can apply to extend alcohol permits to the new outdoor seating areas under the program, but restaurants cannot create a “beer garden” or allow patrons to stand or walk and drink.

The expanded outdoor seating is meant to help restaurants accommodate guests while still meeting physical distancing guidelines after Public Health Madison & Dane County released stricter rules following an increase in coronavirus cases related to restaurants and bars.

Executive Director of Madison’s Central Business Improvement District Tiffany Kenney spoke about the potential the streatery has to help businesses economically recover in a statement.

“The State Street Streatery is a direct response to requests from our local State Street businesses, who have faced multiple challenges since March,” Kenney said. “This particular program will also bring added exposure and opportunities to retailers, as well as restaurants along the entirety of the street.”

To comply with PHMDC’s order, tables for outdoor eating must be six feet apart to allow for physical distancing and only six people from the same household can sit at a table. 

Retailers can sell merchandise on the sidewalks during this time as well through the Merchant Vending Program — Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said all fees for the program have been waived for 2020. 

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The city has identified several other areas that can house ‘Café Zones’ over the summer, including the 100 Block of East Mifflin Street, the 100 Block of South Carroll Street and the 100 Block of West Main Street.

Rhodes-Conway spoke about the impact of the program so far and her hopes for the program’s future in a statement

“The Streatery program has become a lifeline for many of our cherished local businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rhodes Conway said. “The weekend State Street closures will also help local retailers and merchants in their recovery by being able to take advantage of a full pedestrian street on weekends.”