‘It allows restaurants to keep their lights on’: ‘Bethesda Streetery’ gives customers sense of normalcy

On Monday, the Montgomery County Council will look at making some changes to COVID-19 restrictions, including allowing bowling alleys and museums to open.

There’s also a proposed change to the mandates regarding face coverings, requiring that they extend to covering the chin.

The county remains under its Phase Two reopening plan.

While the Montgomery County continues to find ways to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Council member Andrew Friedson said he is pleased with one strategy to assist the restaurant industry, specifically the “Bethesda Streetery” concept, where several streets are closed to vehicular traffic and tables for diners are spread out into the streets.

Friedson said two things make the arrangement a successful one for Bethesda.

“I think certainly Bethesda is set up as a very urban environment,” and the area is experienced with using streets for foot traffic, Friedson said.

The areas that are closed off are normally closed off for the Taste of Bethesda, an annual food and crafts event.

Friedson said the closures of segments of Norfolk, Cordell and Woodmont avenues in the “streetery” program also use the same type of traffic changes and signage as the Taste of Bethesda.

Asked if safety has been an issue, Freidson said that he is not aware of any problems.

“It is very well-signed; it is very clear,” that the roads are closed to traffic, he said.

Friedson said the program “allows restaurants to keep their lights on, and it allows residents to have that small sense of normalcy,” as the pandemic continues to change the way people live.

He said there’s also an ongoing look at how retailers could be helped the same way that the dining industry has been helped.

“This is part of a broader effort to try to think about how do we respond to the new normal in the now, in the immediate future and then moving forward. Because there’s a question of what are restaurants and retail going to look like?” Friedson said.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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