The City of Fredericton has announced plans to help bring business to local restaurants and cafés that have been affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.
It will set up bistro-style seating and picnic tables in three locations — Phoenix Square, Barracks Square and the Nashwaaksis Commons — where people can sit and eat food purchased from local establishments.
It’s a partnership with Downtown Fredericton and Business Fredericton North dubbed “Fredericton al fresco.”
“Our view is that our public spaces, our parks, are going to be more important than ever this summer as a place for people to enjoy family time and to enjoy the summer if there is limited mobility, particularly beyond provincial borders this summer,” said Ken Forrest, director of planning and development with the city.
Local musicians will also be hired to play in the areas and public art will be installed at the Phoenix Square location.
The restaurant industry has been among the worst affected by the COVID-19 restrictions, according to Restaurants Canada, more than 13,000 industry workers in New Brunswick have been laid off.
The city says the spaces will not be licensed and it will be monitored to make sure people are respecting social distancing rules.
“We will have people there at these locations … and they’ll be cleaning the tables and making sure that things are cleaned up and sanitized,” said Coun. Bruce Grandy.
“They’ll be doing sort of a light reminder of this thing, not intended to be police officers or force enforcement officers, but they’re there to remind people about social distancing.”
As part of the plan, the city will allow food trucks to set up in both Killarney and Odell parks, though concerns came from Coun. Eric Price about the location of the trucks and the freedom they might have to operate.
“We’re basically allowing food trucks to set up to compete with the very restaurants that we’re trying to help, and they pay zero in property taxes.”
Tables will be set out in June and be available until September.