The Lancaster Parking Authority has teamed with the City of Lancaster, the Lancaster City Alliance, and the city’s Downtown Investment District to create an outdoor “food court” area for the city’s restaurants to utilize during the COVID-19 restrictions. Pennsylvania’s gradual reopening plan currently includes imposing seating limitations in restaurants to reduce the likelihood of community spread. As a result, many restaurants are seeking to add outdoor seating to increase the number of customers they can serve. However, many restaurants do not have the physical space to accommodate outdoor seating, resulting in this unique partnership of numerous community organizations.
To help support the local restaurant industry, as well as revitalize the community, the Parking Authority donated numerous on-street parking spaces to utilize as outdoor dining areas. Larry Cohen, Lancaster Parking Authority Executive Director stated “We are thrilled to be a part of this partnership aimed at reopening our community, and we will continue to do what we can to support our local businesses and residents. As we all try to navigate a situation that none of us has faced before, it is essential to find additional opportunities to work together to move forward in the most safe and effective manner possible.” The program will run at least through the end of the summer, and possibly through the end of the year. The Parking Authority is also renting on-street meter spaces to local restaurants or businesses as “parklets”. These areas will provide additional spaces for Lancaster residents and visitors to spend time outside in the community while continuing to socially distance from others.