The Senate today passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee and Sen. Alana DiMario that allows restaurants to continue approved outdoor dining until Feb. 15, 2024. The legislation passed the House on March 16 and now heads to Governor McKee’s desk for his signature.
“The take it outside campaign has proven to be very popular with residents, tourists and business owners alike,” said Representative McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett). “With confusing zoning ordinances that vary from town to town, the process of providing outdoor dining can be costly and overly burdensome on small businesses. Passing this bill provides a window of relief while Senator DiMario and I work with all the stakeholders, including the hospitality association, the league of cities and towns, and individual business owners, to find a long-term solution to keep outdoor dining going strong.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the state imposed a moratorium on some local ordinances that prohibited outdoor dining, allowing more restaurants around the state to serve customers outdoors. That moratorium is currently scheduled to end on April 1, 2023.
The legislation (2023-S 0683, 2023-H 5264A) would extend that moratorium to Feb. 15, 2024. Both Senator DiMario and Reprehensive McEntee have introduced legislation (2023-S 0300) to make outdoor dining permanent, which they say they will continue to pursue.
“With the warm weather coming, our small-businesses deserve clarity and certainty,” said Senator DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown, New Shoreham). “By passing this extension, we ensure restaurants can plan for this spring and summer as we continue to work with local leaders and small business owners to make outdoor dining permanent.”
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 36 to 0.