Milwaukie brainstorms ways to curb restaurant crowds

Clackamas County

Some local leaders and residents worry restaurants and bars won't be able to maintain social distancing

MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — Several restaurants and bars in Milwaukie have opened their doors to sit-in service but some locals worry about customers ignoring safety guidelines. 

City leaders are trying to strike a balance between getting businesses back on their feet while still maintaining social distancing. 

Businesses say they had little time between the governor’s approval of Phase 1 on Friday and reopening on Saturday. Some places moved tables out or closed some off to provide distancing. Others added more outdoor outdoor seating but found that doing so encouraged outdoor crowds. 

Duffy’s Irish Pub has seen a few changes since reopening. There are fewer bar stools and those that remain are spaced six feet apart. There’s also a growing demand for outdoor food and beverage service.

The mayor of Milwaukie told KOIN 6 News he’s planning to ask council members to approve more so-called “parklets,” or tables in what are now parking spaces outside of some restaurants and bars. 

Some restaurants like Case De Tamales say they’ve applied for permits to add sidewalk and parking area seating to make up for the loss of inside customers.

Mayor Mark Gamba said he’s not in favor of adding rules but he cautions the state could shut down businesses again if customers don’t take precautions and there’s an outbreak. 

“If people really do want to be able to enjoy restaurants and bars then it behooves them to follow the rules and to behave in the manner they’ve been asked to behave so we don’t end up back deeply in the pandemic,” Gamba said. 

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