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Portland businesses serve diners and drinkers in the streets thanks to PBOT permits

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has issued nearly 200 permits to expand table service outside, to allow struggling businesses serve more customers.

PORTLAND, Ore. — They are set up for outside service. This past weekend was really the first test of the city's Healthy Businesses Program. It allows customer seating in parking spots along the curb, or on side streets shut down to accommodate it. And it gives places struggling through COVID-19 restrictions a way to expand in the fresh air.

Jennifer Linn is the bar manager at Aztec Willie's Taqueria, and she is glad to be serving customers outside.

“It is great. I know some people don't have the option so we're really grateful that we had the parking space to be able to do that,” said Linn.

So far, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has permitted nearly 200 sites. The purple diamonds on a map on the PBOT website show them throughout the city. All but a handful are curbside seating; a handful close streets to accommodate tables.

Dana Solis says eating just off the street takes some getting used to, but overall it feels good.

“Just (being) outdoors seeing people; just anything out of the house, it feels so good to return to some normalcy,” said Solis.

Outside service is happening off North Mississippi Avenue too, where Beech Street is closed. That Allows Stormbreaker Brewing to spread out the tables. On Sunday, workers were wearing masks, but most customers, were not. That may be a concern generally for workers across the city.

Some on our Sunrise Extra Facebook post said customers weren't social distancing and respecting their health. But another worker in Sellwood said regulars at the bar where he works were being thoughtful and patient, and they were adjusting together.

Back at Stormbreaker Brewing, the sun shined on many people back for the first time. Eating, drinking  and socializing where experts say it's a little safer, outside.

“I think it's great I think it's going to bring more people out and about and it's going to bring more money back into the economy and back into the restaurants and businesses that are struggling,” said customer Kaili Duffy.

PBOT has also issued about 60 priority pickup and drop off permit that help with to-go orders and deliveries. All the permits are free for those that qualify, and they are good through the beginning of November.

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