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Boston Licensing Board to Reprimand Beer Gardens for Non-Compliance With Social Distance Regulations

Owners of restaurants with large outdoor dining areas and restaurants in Allston-Brighton must also attend emergency hearings

A stock photograph of a glass of beer on an outdoor table in a beer garden Hunter Bliss Images/Shutterstock

The Boston Licensing Board will host two emergency hearings on August 13 to address complaints that it and the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) have received regarding non-compliance with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines at Boston beer gardens, restaurants with temporarily expanded large outdoor dining areas, and restaurants with liquor licenses in the neighborhoods of Allston and Brighton.

The hearing for beer garden operators and those with temporary large expansions to outdoor dining areas is set to begin at 12 p.m., while the hearing for restaurant operators with liquor licenses in Allston and Brighton will begin at 3 p.m. Operators who are required to but do not call into the virtual hearings risk having their outdoor dining licenses revoked.

Both hearing notices cite the following list of complaints as cause for the possible revocation of outdoor dining licenses:

- Failure to adhere to the guidance issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding social distancing and mandatory operational requirements and the Board’s various advisories regarding the same;

- Failure to properly monitor patrons waiting in line for admission to the premise; and

- Failure to adhere to City, state, and federal laws, codes, and ordinances regarding tobacco use and the presence of animals in food service establishments including outdoor patios.

One complaint about Cisco’s Seaport beer garden filed to Boston’s 311 service states, “The places themselves appear to be adhering to the social distancing guidelines inside their establishments and operating at a reduced capacity. But one of the unintended consequences is that this creates a line to get in — sometime 50-150 people — all jammed up on one another with no social distancing.” Another, ostensibly also about Cisco’s beer garden based on the address provided, states, “Zero social distancing at the line outside of the beer garden. At least 100 people crowded together.”

This is not the first time that the Licensing Board, in conjunction with ISD, has called an emergency hearing to address reported violations of the state’s new COVID-19 outdoor dining regulations, which include rules about distancing, party size, and more. In June, operators from every bar and restaurant in the North End were forced to attend a virtual hearing to address complaints received by the Licensing Board and ISD, many of which mimicked the alleged transgressions of beer gardens and restaurants in Allston-Brighton.

The line from the city then was the same as it is now: Follow the rules, or have your outdoor dining permits revoked.

Large Outdoor Dining and Drinking Places and Allston/Brighton Restaurants with Liquor Licenses to Get Dressing Down Over Covid-19, Smoking and Dogs [UH]
Boston Licensing Board Reprimands North End Restaurants for Noncompliance With COVID-19 Outdoor Dining Rules [EBOS]