Williamsburg releases emergency temporary zoning guidelines for outdoor seating during Phase 1


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — As May 15 marks the beginning of Phase 1 in Governor Northam’s Forward Virginia plan, Williamsburg released emergency temporary zoning guidance for local business owners and managers.

The temporary zoning guidance is set to help support outdoor seating for the hospitality businesses that can open. The zoning is for properly licensed restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, wineries, and tasting rooms.

“As the Governor relaxes restrictions on businesses across Virginia, it has become obvious the City would need to provide guidance to our local entrepreneurs on best practices,” City Manager Andrew Trivette said.

The governor’s order allows food and beverage facilities to reopen using outdoor seating areas such that occupancy cannot exceed 50% of the lowest occupancy load outlined on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still not allowed and dining parties must be seated at least six feet apart from each other.

The city release says that patrons may not self-serve food or condiments and buffets have to be staffed by servers.

Bar seats are still closed to patrons and employees have to wear face coverings at all times. Any area that is frequently touched must be disinfected and cleaned hourly.

Additionally, tabletops, chairs, credit card terminals, and bill folders must be cleaned between each use.

“Businesses that do not adhere to the requirements will close,” said city officials.

The guidelines are categorized by business type and are effective immediately. They are set to expire by any of the following: the revised directive of the City Manager, the adoption of an Ordinance by the City Council, or by July 31.

Private Outdoor Seating Expansion:

  • Existing outdoor seating areas may be expanded into adjacent areas including streets and sidewalks so long as the public throughway remains open, applicable special event permits are obtained, and emergency access is uninterrupted. Only locations in downtown Williamsburg will be considered for street closures.
  • New outdoor seating areas may be created to include portions of the existing parking field provided that the guidelines in Executive Order 61 can be met, and
    • Appropriate barriers must be installed to protect patrons and comply with any applicable ABC regulations.
    • Architectural Review Board requirements for such outdoor seating shall not apply.
    • City Staff shall have the discretion to determine maximum space available for conversion to outdoor seating while providing necessary parking for patrons.

Public Seating Areas:

  • The City may create outdoor seating areas on Duke of Gloucester Street given that
    • The street shall continue to be closed for use by vehicular traffic and will have limited pedestrian access from Boundary Street to Henry Street.
    • The City of Williamsburg shall install and maintain tables, chairs, and umbrellas for use by patrons regardless of point of purchase for consumer goods.
    • The seating area shall open at dawn and close at 10 p.m.
    • Necessary emergency access shall be maintained for all adjacent structures.
    • Architectural Review Board requirements for such outdoor seating shall not apply.

More information on the Forward Williamsburg Reopening Procedure can be read online.

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