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Temporary outdoor dining banned as of July 1 in Martin County

Businesses without outdoor dining permits will soon have to return indoors
Posted at 5:58 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 19:09:02-04

STUART, Fla. — It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about outdoor dining, but by U.S. Highway 1 and Kanner Highway in Stuart, Nancy's Pizza set up a tent.

The owner said it became a lifeline last year.

This was one of a number of temporary dining places set up during COVID-19 where business owners did not have to get permits.

But now, with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance regarding masks and social distancing, the county said it needs to go.

"I think everybody is excited to return to normal operations," said Bethany Alex, spokeswoman for Martin County.

There's no exact number on how many restaurants took advantage, but by July 1, temporary dining areas are no more.

The executive order won't have a big impact in downtown Stuart. Many restaurants that set up temporary dining establishment during COVID-19 have made them permanent through city permitting.

"We actually had our own state of emergency that included allowing outdoor dining throughout the city, so there were a few restaurants that took advantage of that downtown," said David Dyess, Stuart's city manager.

Dyess said those restaurants have since transitioned to permanent outdoor seating.

"Having that outdoor atmosphere brought diners to the location, customers to that location," said Dyess.

In some places, like Delray Beach, temporary outdoor dining will be around until at least September.

It's unclear if there would be any penalties through Martin County if impacted businesses don't comply.

"Safety is our first priority here as we allow businesses to get back to normal operations," said Alex.

The owner of Nancy's said the restaurant plans to get the permits to establish permanent outdoor deck seating in the future.