Mass. Making Funding Available To Help With Dining, Retail Logistics

BOSTON (State House News Service) — The Baker administration is making $5 million available to cities and towns to make things like outdoor dining and queuing on a sidewalk outside a retail business -- things that are becoming more common as the state reopens its economy under social distancing guidelines -- more feasible.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Thursday that the administration had heard from local officials that they wanted to help their businesses as they try to reopen under new state safety mandates and sector-specific guidelines, but needed help to do so.

Polito said the money is meant to help municipalities "quickly launch or expand improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility and renewed commerce." She said the funding will allow cities and towns to "create more comfortable and exciting spaces in your communities so people can get out safely and enjoy the offerings at their local establishments."

During the ongoing Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan, restaurants are allowed to open for al fresco dining, but some restaurateurs without existing patios or parking lots are constrained by their location. Retailers can welcome customers inside their stores again, but under capacity limits and it is now common to have to wait in a line outside of a store.

The lieutenant governor said applications for the "shared streets and spaces emergency grant program" will be available June 22 and that awards will range from $5,000 to $300,000.

By Colin A. Young, State House News Service

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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