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Police, ISD to start inspections of North End curbside patios tomorrow

City of Boston Licensing Board: Emergency Informational Hearing for North End Licensees 6-24-20

Most North End restaurants are complying with state and city Covid-19 regulations, but those that aren't can expect to have their new patio areas shut immediately, city licensing officials told restaurant owners today.

Both ISD inspectors and BPD's licensing unit will be walking the streets of the North End starting tomorrow making sure restaurants haven't taken up more curbside space than they were granted, that tables are at least six feet apart and that employees are wearing masks - as are customers when they get up from their tables, Boston Licensing Board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce said. Also, she added, anybody who's installed couches or is piping in music better get rid of the couches and disconnect the music immediately. And stop letting customers smoke, she added.

Joyce told North End restaurant owners at a mandatory Zoom meeting today that they city really wants to help them get through the current pandemic and that letting them put seats down at the curb without a hearing process that typically would take months is part of that.

But at the same time, she continued, the board has to worry about public health and safety. The new outdoor space is a privilege granted by the city and it can be taken away immediately: Both ISD inspectors and police can and will instantly revoke the patio permits of any restaurants found not in compliance - to the point that diners will be told to leave immediately, without even paying their bills, she said, adding, that, yes, inspectors will have tape measures to check the distances between tables.

And when that happens, the police will then do a complete inspection of the entire restaurant, which could lead to a disciplinary hearing before the board, she said.

Board Executive Secretary Lesley Delaney Hawkins said 311 has gotten more than 50 complaints from North End residents about possible violations and that she and board members have also gotten their share of complaints from residents.

Some have been about dogs being allowed to sit with their owners. One restaurant owner asked what he's supposed to do if a customer refuses to show proof that a dog is actually a service animal - which are allowed with diners. ISD Commissioner Dion Irish acknowledged that yes, "let's face it, a lot of people show up with the dogs and don't necessarily have a service need," and he allowed that restaurant owners cannot ask for papers. But they can ask if the dog is a service animal and, if so, what service it provides, after which the owner has done all he or she can.

However, he added that what the city is really looking for is for restaurant owners not to advertise "puppy friendly patios," which he said has not been an issue in the North End, unlike in some other Boston neighborhoods.

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Comments

Doesn't there still have to be distancing in these outdoor spaces? I went past somewhere today - nice area set up on sidewalk or former parking spot, barriers, bistro tables, umbrellas, etc... but all tables close to each other so people from different groups literally sitting back-to-back!

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Voting closed 32

Just the North End, why not do inspections everywhere. Are they believers of the Trump doctrine - worried that if they do lots of inspections, they will find lots of violators?

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Voting closed 7

I can assure that the licensing cops (all three of them) roam the entire city. The issue here were the unique concerns caused in a neighborhood where you basically have mostly small restaurants piled on top of each other in a really crowded issue, where the city has been letting them take over curb space in the current situation.

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Voting closed 12

Watching many of the participants reactions during that meeting was embarrassing.

Falling asleep, making faces, picking their noses; it was like standing in front of a classroom of 4th graders.

And if that's how they act when facing the loss of dining privileges, just think how seriously they take food prep and safety precautions.

THEY DONT CARE.

We're moments away from someone invoking and intertwining the name of a certain famous explorer who never set foot in north america as part of their "struggle" and then any semblance of rational debate is out the window.

For a neighborhood that boasts/brags of having such close ties to Italy they sure haven't been keeping up with health news from the old country.

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Voting closed 50

ISD is incapable of or unwilling to enforce the all non-covid violations it faces every day in Boston. It appears to be due a combination of under-staffing, indifference, and alleged good old fashioned corruption, allegedly coming directly from former Commissioner Buddy himself, as has been widely reported in the media. Just scroll through the 311 complaints over the years to get a flavor of how ISD really works

So let's not expect that ISD is going to do much to enforce covid rules in the North End. There will be a big splash tonight, and then it will be business at usual after that.

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Voting closed 21

Okay, so they'll clean it up for the next few days when ISD rolls through, and I'm sure it will never be an issue again...

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Voting closed 19

Yes some establishments need to step it up and improve. The establishment can't control the public wandering along sidewalks and streets mask-less and in close quarters. You can't self distance on a sidewalk full of people in the North End.

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Voting closed 12