Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A state order allowing expanded outdoor dining expires Nov. 1. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Restaurants struggling to survive coronavirus, which makes it a health risk to seat customers inside, know they face a deadline on their outdoor dining: cold weather. A statewide order allowing emergency licensing for outdoor dining on sidewalks and into roadways expires Nov. 1.

Cambridge’s Small Business Advisory Committee is trying to figure out what’s next, city councillors learned Monday.

The committee, which has been meeting alternating Thursdays over the course of the summer, will use its next meeting this month to talk about fall and winter plans, especially for restaurants, said Matt Nelson, assistant to the city manager for community relations.

“Even though it’s 95 degrees today, the restaurants are looking toward the winter and wondering what they’re going to be facing and what and what rules they’re going to have,” Nelson said to councillors at a special meeting held to hear coronavirus-related updates.

The city has expanded a heat lamp program tested in Harvard Square for “any restaurant that is interested,” Nelson said. Restaurants that want to bring in heat lamps to extend their outdoor dining must contact the fire department.

“We’re more than willing and able to try to work with these restaurants as long as possible for outside dining,” Nelson said, though the inevitable snowfalls will “make things a little difficult, especially with sidewalk and street clearance.”

“At least through November, we should be able to work with these restaurants, and maybe longer,” Nelson said.