The DeLand City Commission has given its blessing to a series of temporary measures aimed at helping Downtown businesses, particularly bars and eateries, survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new efforts are the brainchild of a group of merchants, including Bill Budzinski of The Elusive Grape, the owners of Abbey Bar, and Melisa Reed of The Table, Cafe DaVinci and other businesses owned by her and her husband, Dan Reed.
The new rules were initially discussed at the City Commission’s Aug. 3 meeting, but city staff formally drafted a policy that was voted on Monday, Aug. 17.
Assistant City Manager Mike Grebosz said the new rules go into effect immediately, and will end when the governor revokes the statewide emergency declared due to COVID-19.
The measure will see a couple of Downtown streets closed Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 to 10, so that tables and chairs can be set out to provide additional space for diners.
The streets include East Indiana Avenue up to the entrances to parking lots 5 and 6; and West Georgia Avenue between the entrances to parking lots 2 (near the corner of Woodland Boulevard) and 11 (near Trilogy Coffee Roasting Co.).
West Georgia Avenue already is closed on Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m., due to the Artisan Alley Farmers Market.
West Indiana Avenue will remain open to vehicular traffic, but new rules allow tables to be placed on the wide sidewalks on both sides of the street.
The MainStreet DeLand Association will be responsible for overseeing the allocation of space in the expanded seating areas, to ensure fairness.
“The physically distanced outside tables and chairs will be located on West Georgia Avenue, a small portion of East Indiana Avenue, as well as on the sidewalks along West Indiana Avenue,” DeLand city spokesman Chris Graham said. “The city will be responsible for closing and reopening the roads, while merchants will set up, tear down and regularly sanitize the tables and chairs.”
Citizens would also be allowed to walk around with alcoholic beverages in special sealed containers along Woodland Boulevard from Ohio Avenue south to Voorhis Avenue, along with Florida Avenue between the same streets, and Alabama Avenue between Voorhis Avenue and Church Street.
The provision for walking around Downtown DeLand with an alcoholic beverage also will be in effect from 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Doing so will remain against the law at other times.
“The city’s mask ordinance remains in effect, and people must continue to wear masks inside Downtown shops and should use caution when they are unable to socially distance themselves from others,” Graham said.