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Restaurants: Parkersburg’s flexibility on dining deserves praise

Local residents already know it is going to take a lot of common sense for us to make it through the reopening of our economy safely. Fortunately, it appears as though Parkersburg City government understands it will take some flexibility, too.

Gov. Jim Justice’s order permitting outdoor dining at restaurants serving freshly prepared meals included even those restaurants that did not already have an outdoor dining area. If they are in good standing with the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, they are able to apply for a 30-day permit to conduct outdoor dining.

But, the state’s standards for issuing such permits are not as strict as the city’s. Here in Parkersburg, one big difference is that the state does not require physical barriers around outdoor dining areas. The city does.

Mayor Tom Joyce and members of the administration are doing the right thing, however, in temporarily relaxing that requirement, so some restaurants can get back to making a little money.

As Joyce said, the city needs to “do everything we can to make it easier for these folks to open.” But when the state of emergency ends, those who are unable to meet the city’s standards should quickly return to indoor business as usual. Of course, some may find it is worth their while to put forth the extra cost it would take to meet the city’s requirements once their customers have gotten used to an outdoor option.

In either case, city government’s flexibility on this matter is greatly appreciated, both by restaurant owners and customers.

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