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Cincinnati expanded outdoor dining program set to begin Friday



CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Outdoor dining in the city of Cincinnati reopens on May 15 and city leaders have come up with a plan to expand restaurant seating.

The pilot program will start in Over-the-Rhine. Part of 15th Street will be closed off between Race Street and Vine Street. There are also several parking areas along Vine that will be closed off between Central Parkway and 15th. None of the closures will block private parking areas.

"Where there are problems, we are asking that those business owners reach out to the administration so that we can make those adjustments because what we don't want to do is have unintended consequences where someone is being helped and another business is being harmed," Cincinnati Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman said.

OTR residents will be able to park for free in more spots because of the loss of street parking.

There will be barricades in the street and each person, not just the tables, must be six feet apart from the next closest person outside their group.

Assistant Cincinnati Police Chief Paul Neudigate says there will be extra police officers in the area.

"Everybody wants to talk about enforcement. What I would like to say is that the police are going to be there to help facilitate this. We know that everybody has been with the pandemic; everybody is eager to get out. Businesses are suffering. They're eager to get back into where they need to be to keep afloat," Neudigate said.

Officers know many people are tired of being kept inside and are wanting any reason to get out of the house.

"People are going to violate. There's going to be questions. Our first response will be to go there and observe, assess and help them work through the process," Neudigate said.

The restaurants and 3CDC are the ones footing the bill for the barricades and paying for the extra police to be there.

The program is open to any restaurant in the city, but they must be approved before they can begin the expanded outdoor dining and they must follow ADA guidelines so they do not block any sidewalks.

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