In cities across the U.S., restaurant owners are working to find any way they can to stay in business.
Some locations have been able to adapt their indoor seating for social distancing and limited capacity per state regulations.
Other restaurants have worked to create outdoor eating venues — and in some cities, outdoor eating is the only option for restaurants trying to say afloat.
So, what are these places that rely on outdoor seating to do when the weather turns cold?
Well, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled her plan over the weekend: grants to help winterize outdoor seating — including by setting up heated tents that would effectively turn outdoor eating spaces into indoor eating spaces.
In a Sunday night tweet, Bowser announced the Streatery Winter Ready Grant Program, "an investment of $4 million to help small businesses winterize outdoor dining areas and maintain outdoor dining operations in the District."
#RAMMYS20: We just announced an investment of $4 million to help small businesses winterize outdoor dining areas an… https://t.co/mziOScIuf6— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@Mayor Muriel Bowser) 1600643069.0
The program is designed to "allow businesses to continue outdoor dining as weather gets chillier," WDVM-TV said.
In a city like D.C., where the autumn and winter seasons can get quite cold, putting tents over the outdoor spaces would likely be the most effective method of winterizing, which is why, according the program's FAQ page, the one-time $6,000 grants can be used for tents, heaters, propane, lighting, furniture, advertising, marketing, and outdoor operational costs.
This will essentially turn the outdoor dining that the city claims to be preserving into indoor dining.
Social media was quick to go after the mayor's announcement for this apparent flaw in the city's logic:
- "So, $4 million to create.......indoor seating."
- "Wouldn't that be indoor dining? You're welcome, I just saved you $4 million. This mayor stuff is easy."
- "Building outdoor heated tents is creating INDOOR SEATING. Tonight, the Mayor of DC takes the lead as the dumbest f***ing Mayor in America."
- "But if everyone is in an enclosed space (in the tents) that are circulating heat (by circulating warm air, and microbes in the air) how is this different than dining indoors?"
- "They are creating an indoor area outdoors, so it is no different than being indoors. Plus it will have worse air circulation than indoors would so it would increase Covid risk. Plus the additional cost hurts the business. But other than that, it's great!"
- "How is building heated tents around tables outdoor dinning [sic]? Won't this be the same risk as indoor dinning [sic]?"