Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente announced that he is working on a Restaurant and Retail Rescue Plan with local and state officials as well as law enforcement to help businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Picente, industry experts say 30-40 percent of restaurants could close if they cannot get open over the next few weeks.
The Restaurant and Retail Rescue Plan plan would be a comprehensive codes and ordinance plan that would help cities, towns, and villages help restaurants and smaller retail shops.
"What is included will be the ability to grant municipalities the option to expedite or suspend local zoning to allow for enhanced outdoor seating capacity," Picente said. "Also, to allow localities that desire to temporarily close state roads or other roads in order to allow for the creation of outdoor seating and retail opportunities in down towns."
Picente says he will also give local municipalities the authority to manage open container laws temporarily and they are also looking to the state to waive restaurant permits provided they are supported by the local government jurisdiction.
“Many of our villages have busy streets and roads that go through them but we’re noticing some of our neighbors in other regions are closing down certain lanes so businesses can expand out into the street and allow more capacity," Picente said. "So you have limited capacity inside, limited capacity outside which then equals more capacity for those businesses to operate.”
Local business owners say they love the idea.
"That would be perfect," Albert Zeina, owners of Zeina's Cafe said. "The whole street would love that."
Picente says he will be sending a letter to the Governor Cuomo regarding these initiatives.