As Rhode Island begins to re-open for business, restaurants interested in offering outdoor dining are being asked to submit plans to the City to allow for expanded operations that would otherwise require Zoning or Council approval. 

All proposals should follow guidance provided by the State Department of Health as detailed at ReopeningRI.com. 

Applicants are asked to submit a brief written description and illustrative site plan including table placement, seating configurations, and distance between tables. For those proposals seeking to utilize attached or adjacent parking areas, applicants should provide a detailed safety plan separating dining areas from vehicle traffic and specify the total number of lost parking spaces. 

If a restaurant plans to use an abutting property in order to supplement their outdoor space, authorization from the owner or leaseholder is also required. 

Restaurants are also reminded to adhere to all relevant State guidelines, which include but are not limited to the following requirements: 

  • Dining must be restricted to outdoor dining areas only (indoor dining is not allowed at this time). All indoor dining areas and seating (such as within waiting areas) must remain closed to customers. 
  • Bar seating and service to standing customers is prohibited. Additionally, establishments should prevent customer access to potential gathering spaces on the premises (e.g. dance floors, courtyards). Customer seating anywhere other than at tables is prohibited 
  • Capacity is limited to no more than 20 seated tables at any given time, provided that in no instance shall an establishment’s seating capacity exceed its normal (previous) seating capacity. 
  • Individual parties may not exceed 5 people, consistent with existing RIDOH gathering size limits. 
  • Tables must: Be separated by at least 8 feet and be at least 6 feet away from areas with regular foot traffic. Tables may be closer together provided that physical, nonporous barriers (i.e. plexi-glass, plastic) of an appropriate height (tall enough to fully separate seated customers) are installed between tables, in accordance with standards established by RIDOH. 
  • Service for outdoor dining requires that reservations be made in advance electronically or by phone (no walk-ins).
  • Establishments should demarcate social distancing spaces in waiting areas and customer flows with tape or paint on the floor as well as signage. 

Plans may be submitted to the City Clerk’s Office via email at CAlaan@CityofNewport.com or in hard copy to the City’s drop box located adjacent to the Bull Street entrance to City Hall. 

Further questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s Office at (401) 845-5349.