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Council votes to let businesses expand during pandemic

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With health officials still urging social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Albuquerque City Council on Monday night approved several bills meant to reduce crowding at businesses and elsewhere in the community.

That includes a bill that would allow restaurants to temporarily expand their service area into parking lots, landscaping and other outdoor areas on the property. Another will let businesses incorporate adjacent on-street parking spots into their operations through the creation of “parklets.”

Council also passed legislation urging state regulators to let bars and restaurants expand their alcohol service area to parking lots and outdoor areas for the duration of the public health crisis.

Councilors said they were looking to create more physical space for businesses that are facing capacity restrictions mandated by New Mexico public health orders.

A separate bill passed Monday would create an “active street initiative,” through which the city will temporarily close certain roadways to vehicular traffic in favor of dedicated “recreational uses and active transportation opportunities.” Sponsor Isaac Benton said it could alleviate crowding at other city spots during the pandemic.

“A lot of people are out trying to get some exercise and maintain social distance (but) if you go out on the bosque trail right now, I’d say it’s questionable how well the social distancing (is going),” he said.

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