Resources to Enable Outdoor Activities, including Dining, During COVID-19 Pandemic

See below for: 

Executive Order 7MM

State Guidance re Reopening

Annotated Easy-Read Version of 7MM

Summary & FAQ 

Local Examples of Permit Application and Guidance Documents

On May 12, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 7MM, which enables a process to fastrack the approval of temporary outdoor commercial uses, including outdoor dining. Executive Order 7OOO extended this provision through November 12, 2020.

The State of CT has also issued Guidelines for the re-opening of "Phase 1" activities:  

Annotated Easy-Read Version of 7MM (CCAPA)

Summary of 7MM & FAQ (Adapted from material provided by Sara Bronin)

Top 4 MUST-KNOWS for Planners:  

#1:  Regional COG reviews and referrals related to COVID-19 are ELIMINATED, reducing a zoning amendment timeline to just *TEN DAYS.*  

#2:  Applications for Outdoor Activities are AUTOMATICALLY approved within 10 days, BUT the “Relevant Enforcement Official” (a zoning administrator or ZEO) can approve, approve with conditions, or reject an application.  There’s no commission review.  

#3:  Applications for Outdoor Activities are FAST-TRACKED, and an initial application need only include a sketch or drawing, and a narrative explaining any noise, waste, management, odor, light pollution, and environmental impacts. (Note:  Staff can ask for additional information.)    

#4:  Minimum parking requirements are LIFTED, for the duration of the state of emergency for Outdoor Activities and for other COVID-19 activities.  


Other FAQs:  

What activities are included in “Outdoor Activities”?:  

- Live entertainment?  No.  

- Bars?  Not unless they serve food.  

- Billboards?  No; only signs under 15 SF.  

- Midnight revelry?  No; hours automatically approved are to 11 p.m. Fridays/Saturdays and 9 p.m. all other nights.  (Note:  Staff can condition an approval to change/limit/expand these hours.)  


In what locations can Outdoor Activities be prohibited?  

- Certain setbacks or yards?  Yes, but only if there is a health or safety issue.  The Order lifts any regulations that would limit Outdoor Activities to certain yards or within certain setbacks.  

- Parking spaces/lots?  Not outright, because parking minimums are lifted.  (Note:  Staff can reasonably condition an Outdoor Activity in terms of # of spaces or part(s) of a parking lot.)  

- Sidewalks?  No, as long as there is a 6’ clearance.  (Note:  Again, staff can reasonably condition the details - maybe there are some places where you want more clearance, e.g., or a fence.)   

- Other zoning lots?  No. Nearby zoning lots can be used (with the owner’s permission of course).  

- Public streets?  No, if whoever in your town regulates street closures and street use (DPW?) says someone can use the street for an Outdoor Activity.  

- Historic districts?  No.  

- Wetlands?  Yes.  Wetlands laws still apply in full force and are not waived by the Order.  


Any other technical details worth knowing?  

- If you prohibit Outdoor Activities or don’t mention them in your regulations, they are ALLOWED, subject only to “reasonable” conditions.  

- Under normal circumstances, applicants shouldn’t be expected to submit plans that would require an architect, engineer, or surveyor.  

- Appeals (whether applicant or third party) are fast-tracked to a P&Z or zoning commission (or planning commission).  

- No nonconforming use rights for Outdoor Activities initiated under the EO.  


Other things to consider doing?  

- Set up a separate application JUST for these approvals. 

- Sift through applications as they come in, and focus more on the potentially problematic ones.  

- Change your zoning regulations NOW if you want these Outdoor Activities to be able to continue on for the “season,” since the Order will likely expire in September.   

- Tell your intake counter (or email maintainer) that no fees (local OR state) can be collected for applications for Outdoor Activities.  


Examples of Applications and Guidance Documents:

Manchester Permit Application for Outdoor Dining

Farmington Application and FAQ

Fairfield Guidelines and Application