City Council extended Curbside Belfast at its meeting Sept. 15. The temporary ordinance, which allows restaurants to utilize city space downtown, might become a permanent summer option for Belfast businesses.

The program was extended to Sunday, Nov. 1, after which the city will pick up the barriers and caution fencing at each of the 13 businesses with permits for the spaces. Restaurants do not need to extend their state liquor licenses to comply with the extension, City Manager Erin Herbig said; they are extended with the city’s legislative action.

The city developed the idea last May to address spacing issues in local restaurants related to the state's coronavirus social distancing mandates. Now, councilors are considering allowing the permit option every summer.

Curbside Belfast will return in 2021, but Herbig said she is still considering the best time to resume the program next spring. She wants to monitor coronavirus developments further before making that decision. She said Belfast was the first municipality in the state to implement such a program.

While the program helped restaurants, it did not similarly benefit retailers, Herbig said. To help increase winter monetary reserves for retailers, the city will have a sidewalk sale Oct. 10-11. Our Town Belfast hosted the first sidewalk sale in June 2019 and wanted to continue with the idea this past June but could not because of COVID-19.

Herbig said she is considering changes to the ordinance for next summer regarding food trucks and tightening some of the rules.

Councilor Neal Harkness said the city will have a lot to consider about the logistics of the program if it becomes a permanent seasonal fixture, as tourism and traffic in the area rebound in future summers.