City of Charlotte Announces Temporary Outdoor Dining Program and Restaurant Safety Guidelines
Cory Burkarth
Temporary Outdoor Dining Program

The City of Charlotte has developed Temporary Outdoor Dining Guidelines to assist restaurant businesses during Phase 2. The guidelines allow for restaurants to utilize parking spaces and extra sidewalk/street space for temporary outdoor dining conversion.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has implemented a three-phased approach to slowly lift restrictions while combatting COVID-19, protecting North Carolinians and working together to recover the economy. When North Carolina enters Phase 2, businesses and organizations should follow the guidelines below to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants are required to:

  • Ensure social distancing by arranging tables and seating to achieve at least 6-foot separation between parties for indoor and outdoor dining.

  • Each group of people sitting at a counter should be separated by six (6) feet.

  • Permit no more than 50% of maximum occupancy as stated in fire capacity. Restaurants may permit up to 12 people per 1,000 feet if there is not a fire code number available.

  • Post the reduced "Emergency Maximum Capacity" in conspicuous place. Sign templates are available in English and Spanish on the NC DHHS COVID-19 response site.

  • Post signage reminding people about social distancing (staying at least 6 feet away from others). Know Your W's sign templates are available in English and Spanish on the NC DHHS COVID-19 response website.

  • Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at high-traffic areas for customers, such as any cash register or any place where customers wait to be seated.

Per Governor Cooper's three-phased approach, Phase 2 requires restaurants permit no more than 50% of maximum occupancy as stated in fire capacity. 

Under the Temporary Outdoor Dining Guidelines, restaurants may convert up to 25% of the business's dedicated parking spaces into temporary outdoor dining. This could allow for more dining capacity, while complying with the City of Charlotte Zoning Ordinance and Governor Cooper's Phase 2 requirements. Total capacity for indoor and outdoor dining may not exceed 100% of fire capacity code. Total temporary outdoor dining may not exceed 49 people.

Restaurants wishing to do so can register their business with the City of Charlotte online. There is no permit fee to enter the program. This program will be in place for 90 days as of May 22, 2020 or full lifting of the Governor's phased reopening, whichever is sooner.

Restaurants will also be able to expand sidewalk dining during this period without a permit fee as long as they meet the criteria established by CDOT to maintain pedestrian access and safety.

In the coming days a toolkit will also be available for restaurants to utilize on-street parking spaces and excess pavement for outdoor dining as well. Restaurant owners with questions about the Streateries Pilot program can email In addition, restaurant owners can visit the Small Business Resource website.

Temporary outdoor dining must comply with the City of Charlotte Noise Ordinance and not be in use between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The City of Charlotte is supporting small businesses through its Open for Business initiative, which is designed to support local small businesses that are open during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout the recovery. This includes the Open for Business public dashboard and application creates a comprehensive and easily accessible avenue to connect our residents with small businesses in Charlotte. Small business owners can complete a brief application to have their business added to the dashboard.