VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Council has voted to allow restaurants to expand seating outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ordinance was approved unanimously and allows restaurants to temporarily expand seating outdoors onto the boardwalk, sidewalks or parking lots.

In phase 1, Northam is only allowing outside dining to occur at 50 percent capacity. It’s a restriction that means many restaurants will continue to only be able to only sell takeout and delivery as they only have indoor dining rooms.

That is, unless you create an outdoor dining area.

“For purposes of this ordinance, the term ‘restaurant’ shall mean an existing business with a business license to operate as a restaurant. The permitted area for outdoor dining shall be adjacent to, or in close proximity to, the restaurant,” the ordinance reads.

The restaurants must have seating in the outdoor spaces with limited capacity and adequate spacing.

“It certainly helps what’s going on for us,” said Mike Standing, owner of Waterman’s, Chix on the Beach and The Shack at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, moments after the vote Thursday.

Standing has already laid out his new seating that brushes up against the boardwalk bike path on 7th street.

His homemade 6-foot bamboo stick helps keep the right distance between the tables.

“Act properly and respect the rules the governor has put on us because we don’t want this to be taken away from us,” Standing said about his mindset.

A city permit is required only if the restaurant will use city property, such as sidewalks or similar areas.

The permit could be revoked for noncompliance. However, council also unanimously approved an ordinance that suspends the resort open air cafe fees, allowing all outdoor dining in the city to operate without a fee. That ordinance is in effect for calendar year 2020 only.

The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has created an expedited approval process for outside dining areas as some businesses consider expanding their outdoor dining areas. The process allows the temporary expansion of dining areas only while the governor’s executive orders 61 and 62 are in effect.

Per ABC restrictions, the locality where the business resides must also approve the use of the outside dining area in writing.

Under the ordinance approved Thursday, Virginia Beach restaurants must adhere to restrictions under any order by the governor. The Virginia Beach ordinance expires 30 days after the end of the statewide declaration of a public health emergency.

To apply for a permit, go to or click here.

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