Allowance for Outdoor Dining and/or Drinking Spaces

Office of the Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin

In response to State of Illinois COVID-19 Phase 3 implementation guidelines impacting the City’s restaurants and bars, Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin issued Emergency Order 20-04 today. This Executive Order temporarily suspends certain parts of the City Code governing the use of public rights-of-way and privately-owned parking lots, and service and consumption of alcohol in those outdoor spaces by Urbana businesses and their patrons.

The City of Urbana has worked quickly to implement plans and guidelines to support Urbana establishments that are interested in providing outdoor seating on and after Friday, May 29, 2020. The required permits are issued free of charge.

A brief survey was sent to all Urbana restaurants, bars and food truck operators on May 22, the day after the Governor’s announcement of the Phase 3 rollout. The survey provided feedback to City staff on where individual establishments would like to locate their outdoor seating, including public and private sidewalks and parking lots, how many customers they would like to accommodate, and what date they would like to open. Mayor Marlin said, “I sincerely appreciate the time businesses took to provide their ideas to City staff on how to safely reopen their establishments. This information was extremely helpful to City staff in the development of a special COVID-19 Outdoor Seating Permit Application.” This permit replaces previous Urbana outdoor sidewalk café permits, to specifically address Governor Pritzker’s COVID-19 Phase 3 outdoor seating guidelines.

The City’s outdoor seating permit application requires a narrative describing how the establishment will address sanitation and contact tracing, a detailed site plan ensuring safety and social distancing protocols, and a certificate of insurance (COI) covering the property and any public property being utilized for their outdoor seating.

Details to be provided with permit applications include:

• A brief description of plans for:
- Storage and removal of exterior trash and litter.
- Restrooms for patrons including ADA compliance.
- Hand sanitation for patrons.
- Accommodation for waiting patrons.
- Contact tracing.

• Site Plan elements, including:
- Proposed outdoor seating area, labeled with the location, size and number of tables and chairs, or any items to be part of the outdoor seating.
- Location and number of feet of unobstructed space permitting free passage of pedestrian traffic around and through the outdoor seating area.
- Labels indicating vehicular access; entrances, exits, and vehicular flow, along with handicap-accessible parking, curbside pick-up area, and delivery vehicle locations.
- Location of trees, fire hydrants, utility poles, street light poles, parking meters, bus shelters, trash receptacles and any other obstructions or other permanent street fixtures, either existing or proposed, within the outdoor seating area.
- Location of doors leading from the establishment or abutting buildings. Barricade type and placement.
- Location of tent, if applicable.
- Signage placement.

Mayor Marlin emphasized that reviewing the outdoor seating permit applications has, and will continue to be, a high priority for Urbana City staff to allow as many establishments as possible to open outdoor seating areas, if they choose to do so, on and after May 29.

All restaurants and bars with permitted outdoor seating will be allowed to maintain their existing hours of operation. No street closures have been made for this weekend, as the City has provided additional outdoor seating capacity on public sidewalks and in parking lots. Next week, permit requirements for live acoustic and amplified outdoor music will be announced. Mayor Marlin acknowledges that hardships that have been endured during the COVID-19 pandemic, “We realize this a very difficult time for our Urbana business community and our community at large. Reopening Urbana businesses safely for employees and customers is a main focus at this time.” Current COVID-19 information may be reviewed on the City’s website at:

Live Music Guidelines 

As of June 5, 2020, restaurants and bars with an approved City of Urbana COVID-19 Outdoor Seating Permit will be allowed to host live music for the enjoyment of their outdoor seating customers, according to the following guidelines. 

  • Foremost, Outdoor Seating Permit holders are to create a quality dining environment with background music for seated diners only and be mindful of adjoining property owners.
  • A separate area must be designated for performers, keeping a distance of a least 10 feet from customer areas.
  • The use of barriers between singers and customers & employees during the performance is strongly encouraged.
  • Performers should wear face coverings when possible and follow social distancing guidelines, keeping a minimum of 6’ from each other.
  • Customers must remain at their tables and performers may not interact with customers.
  • It is the responsibility of the Outdoor Seating Permit holder to prevent non-outdoor seating spectators from congregating around the permitted property.
  • Electrical service must originate from the Outdoor Seating Permit holder’s property and not create a tripping hazard in walkways and public areas.
Hours of Operation for Live Music in Outdoor Seating Areas: 
  • Monday through Thursday - non-amplified, acoustic live music will be permitted from 5PM until 9PM.
  • Friday - acoustic and amplified live music will be permitted from 5PM until 9PM.
  • Saturday - acoustic and amplified music will be permitted from Noon until 9PM.
  • Sunday - acoustic and amplified music will be permitted from Noon until 9PM.
  • Music played through a blue tooth speaker for background music will be allowed during regular business hours as long as the sound remains within the permitted area.
COVID-19 Outdoor Seating Permit holders will be at risk of having their Permit revoked if Outdoor Seating Live Music Guidelines are not adhered to and/or noise complaints cannot be resolved.
Any questions or concerns should be sent to:
Click on location marker to view address.
Map Locations: 
Last modified:Thursday, August 20, 2020 - 15:04
- Author: BridgetB