Temporary Outdoor Dining Program

Restaurant Tables Setup Outdoors Near Sidewalk

To provide safer dining options for residents and support the restaurant community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Worcester has implemented a Temporary Outdoor Dining Program. The Temporary Outdoor Dining program establishes an expedited permitting process through which restaurants are able to offer expanded outdoor dining options.

Under the program, normal requirements, zoning and licensing requirements related to parking, location of outdoor dining areas and size of outdoor dining areas are relaxed, allowing considerable flexibility for restaurants to establish outdoor dining areas on a temporary basis during the pandemic. There is no fee to apply for a temporary outdoor dining extension.

Restaurants participating in the Temporary Outdoor Dining program must comply with rules established by the License Commission and all guidelines and protocols of the Commonwealth. Building code, fire code and accessibility requirements apply.

Licenses granted under the program are issued under the authorization of COVID-19 Executive Orders issued by the Governor and the City Manager. All Temporary Outdoor Dining licenses will terminate 60 days following the end of the Governor's declared State of Emergency, or earlier if specified on the license.

Public Notice

As of 4/1/2023, all outdoor dining installations located on the public sidewalk require an annual application and permit from DPW&P which is Available Online.

The State has Extended the Temporary Outdoor Dining Program which is now set to expire on 4/1/2024.

Temporary license holders must apply for permanent licensure with the License Commission under the City's permanent outdoor dining regulations if they wish to continue outdoor dining operations beyond 4/1/2024. License holders are encouraged to contact staff to obtain information on how to make outdoor dining for their establishment permanent before expiration of their temporary license on 4/1/2024 and may email OutdoorDining@worcesterma.gov (preferred) or call 508-799-1198 x33009.

The State has Extended the Takeaway/Delivery sales of alcohol for establishments licensed for on-premises consumption of alcohol which is now set to expire on 4/1/2024. All alcohol sold for takeaway/delivery must be sold with food and at the same price as alcohol for on-premises consumption.

Program Guidance

For more information email OutdoorDining@worcesterma.gov (preferred) or call 508-799-1400 x31440.

Good Neighbor Practices

Because expanded outdoor dining areas have increased potential for impacting neighbors, it is especially important that restaurants carefully monitor and manage their Temporary Outdoor Dining areas.

  • Provide parking and rideshare information for customers on websites and social media.
  • Consider valet service or leasing nearby parking if necessary.
  • Be mindful of noise and how it may impact neighbors (especially residences).
  • Site outdoor dining areas in locations that screened or otherwise located in a manner to minimize nuisance to neighboring residential uses.
  • Maintain outdoor dining areas in a clean and tidy manner.
  • Sidewalk dining must not block pedestrian routes; maintain a 5-foot or wider unobstructed path for pedestrians.
  • Follow all safety protocols to keep customers and employees safe.

Report a Concern

Adherence to operating requirements and safety standards is an important component of the Temporary Outdoor Dining Program. To report a concern regarding the operation of a Temporary Outdoor Dining installation, please contact License Commission staff at License@worcesterma.gov.

  • Describe the location, date/time and nature of the compliant.
  • Provide your name and contact info (optional, but recommended).

Contact Information

License Commission
25 Meade Street
2nd Floor
Worcester, MA 01610

Accessible via WRTA Bus Line. View Schedules

Phone: 508-799-1198 x33009
Fax: 508-799-8544
Email Us

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

City of Worcester
Worcester 311
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Phone: 311
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