Restaurants and taverns in Binghamton may find it easier to obtain approval for outdoor seating as they prepare to reopen their businesses.

Mayor Richard David says the city will expedite the permitting process for outdoor areas and drop application fees.

The mayor said steps will be taken to support the establishments in developing safe reopening plans following the COVID-19 shutdown.

David said the city plans to expand the availability of outdoor restaurant seating in areas that may include sidewalks, streets, public parking lots and green spaces.

Binghamton officials will work with restaurant owners "to reimagine outdoor dining and public event policies."

Representatives of several city restaurants and bars will be part of a working group to discuss ideas with the mayor's office and other departments.

Restaurants are expected to be able to provide some dine-in services under the third phase of the state's reopening guidelines. The Southern Tier may enter that phase in mid-June.

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