By Commissioner Penny Tayor, District 4
On Wednesday evening, April 29th, Governor DeSantis reopened the restaurants, limiting their indoor capacity to 25% of their actual capacity and allowing outdoor dining, all subject to the six-foot social distancing rule. As Economic Chair of the Board of Collier County Commissioners, I have continued to work with restaurant owners and managers through this unprecedented time. The Governor’s announcement is a welcome and wonderful sign that we are getting back to normal.
The Board met on Tuesday, April 28th, one day before Governor Ron DeSantis’ announcement, and the Board of Collier County Commissioners is not scheduled to meet again until May 12th – a full eight days after the restaurants have opened. The restaurants are experiencing devastating financial loss and I believe that government can help by remaining nimble and responsive.
The Board can temporarily relax the County’s parking restrictions in the parking lots and allow outdoor seating in the restaurant’s parking area.
I have spoken to both Fire Chief Schuldt and Fire Chief Ricardo, and they are willing to work with the County on this issue. We must ensure the safety of the restaurant patrons and we can, if we all work together.
Waiting until the next regularly scheduled meeting (May 12, 2020) to discuss this issue is unnecessary and hurtful to the restaurants that might be able to take advantage of the additional outdoor seating. Let’s give our restaurants the support they need and have Special Board meeting early next week.
After all, May 10th is Mother’s Day – a wonderful day to honor our Mothers by eating out in Mom’s favorite restaurant! The expansion of outside dining would a be great boost for our restaurants.