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Portland City Council to vote on plan to create open-air market amid COVID-19

The plan would close five streets downtown in an effort to allow businesses to reopen safely and expand outdoor dining and retail sales.

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland's City Council is set to vote on a plan at it's meeting Monday, May 18, that would close five streets downtown in an effort to allow businesses to reopen safely. 

In conjunction with Gov. Janet Mills’ plan to reopen the Maine economy, the City proposed the plan that includes temporarily closing five downtown streets to allow some commercial businesses the ability to reopen.

The plan would accommodate outdoor dining and retail sales, as well as the expansion of existing outdoor dining spaces onto public and private property. The proposed plan would temporarily close sidewalks, parking lots, plazas, and parklets so restaurant seating and retail sales could safely take place. Physical distancing requirements and CDC safety guidelines would still need to be met.

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The City of Portland presented the plan to the Council’s Economic Development Committee last week, where it was approved. 

The proposal includes the temporary closure of these downtown streets:

  • Dana Street
  • Exchange Street, from Fore to Federal Street
  • Milk Street, from Exchange to Market Street and from Silver to Pearl Street
  • A portion of Middle Street
  • Wharf Street
Credit: NCM

Cotton Street is no longer one of the proposed streets that would close, and that only a portion of Middle Street would be closed as well.  

The City says in its plan, fees associated with the expansion of existing outdoor dining premises will be waived, and fees associated with parklet applications will be significantly reduced.

The City does not intend for these closures to create public gathering or social space, and businesses are required (according to the State’s checklist) to have visible signage reminding visitors of proper social distancing and other COVID-19 recommendations.

The Portland City Council will vote on the plan at its meeting Monday. That will begin at 5:30 P.M. and will be held remotely through Zoom. 

Can you view the meeting agenda, and how to tune in live here

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus.

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