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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Cincinnati's Outdoor Dining Program To Be Expanded, Possibly Even Past Pandemic

The city of Cincinnati plans to expand its Outdoor Dining Program, which could change Downtown after the pandemic.

Mayor John Cranley said this will make Downtown the most pedestrian friendly and walkable downtown in the Midwest.

Five plans being presented could extend sidewalks in certain areas or close some streets to traffic. Cranley said COVID-19 creates a unique opportunity to begin working on expansion.

"It's the perfect time to do this construction when it won't be as disruptive as it would be in normal times," Cranley said.

outdoor dining
Credit Courtesy of the city of Cincinnati
Pieces of the plan for Cincinnati's Outdoor Dining Program

Cincinnati closed some streets downtown in May to aid restaurants with outdoor dining.

The first phase of the expansion is expected to cost $2 million. Two more phases are expected to follow. 3CDC and City Studios Architecture are aiding in the project.

Nostalgia Wine & Jazz Lounge co-owner Tammie Scott said expanding outdoor dining will bring more people Downtown and encourage customers to keep returning.

"It helps us entrepreneurs do our part to maintain and sustain a community we're all proud to call home," Scott said.

In October, Cincinnati launched a program to help keep bars and restaurants sustained during the winter months with CARES Act funds.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.