Restaurant & Retail Reopening Assistance FAQ

Business Licensing
Permitting & Inspections Department


When and how can restaurants and non-essential retail stores open? 

According to the State’s Restarting Maine's Economy staged plan, restaurants and retail stores are allowed to begin operations again on June 1, 2020 as long as they follow the State’s checklist and social distancing guidelines.

Where do I find the COVID-19 prevention checklists required by the State?

Please visit: 

What is allowed through the City’s pilot program? 

This pilot program, approved by the Council on May 18, allows the City to temporarily shut down streets in Portland for the use of outdoor dining and retail. It also allows the City to expand current outdoor dining and retail policies so businesses can use more sidewalks, parks/squares, private parking lots, and parklets when reopening in order to comply with social distancing guidelines. 

Do I need a permit or approval to add restaurant tables to outdoor space on a closed street?

Yes. If you are a current holder of an outdoor dining permit your fees will be waived to expand on the closed street, but you must obtain permission from Business Licensing to ensure your expanded space meets all necessary requirements. If you do not currently have an outdoor dining permit, you must contact Business Licensing to obtain one. You will be required to pay the associated fees. 

Do I need a permit or approval to add restaurant tables to the sidewalk in front of my business? 

Yes. You must contact Business Licensing to obtain an outdoor dining permit if you do not already have one. You also need to contact Business Licensing if you wish to expand your current outdoor dining space. 

Do I need to get approval to take over a public parking space (create a parklet) in front of my business?

Yes. Parklets will only be considered in areas in which the business owner does not have the ability to expand onto the sidewalk, adjacent park or square, or parking lot. You must contact Business Licensing in order to obtain a permit and pay the applicable fees. 

What is a parklet? 

A parklet is an outdoor dining option for businesses that do not have the appropriate amount of space on sidewalks or public parks/squares abutting their establishment, but have adequate space for safe outdoor dining in a parking space. Proper barriers need to be installed, but a built out platform is not required during this pilot program. 

Do I need a building permit to build a parklet? 

A building permit is not required during this temporary pilot program since a platform is not required during this time. However, you do need a parklet permit. 

Is the City waiving any permit fees or reducing any costs? 

Yes. There are no fees for expanding outdoor dining premises for businesses with an existing permit. The parklet fee has also been drastically reduced. Additionally, all fees will not be due until 60 days after the permit is issued. 

Applicants may delay their payment of fees for up to 60 days after their permit is issued.

Expansion of outdoor dining premises for restaurants with an existing permit


Extension of outdoor dining (private property)


New outdoor dining on public property

$84.00 + $2.00/square foot

New outdoor dining in City park/square

$84.00 + $6.30/square foot

Temporary Parklet


Temporary Sidewalk Sale (Retail)


How do I request closure of the street adjacent to my business?

The City has designated several streets to close all or portions of the street and require detours for vehicles. These streets will provide additional space for retail and restaurant operations and were chosen based on the concentration of businesses in conjunction with transportation engineering requirements and public safety. All locations are on city-owned streets. All street closures will be reassessed on an ongoing basis. 

Please contact Business Licensing at or 207-874-8557 to discuss additional street closures, operating on city sidewalks, parks/squares, parking lots, or creating a parklet. 

What are the hours of operation allowed on sidewalks, parklets, and in streets that have been closed?

Hours vary based on the operation of the business and the type of permit they have. Some businesses can serve up until 1:00 AM with outdoor dining permits. The permitted business hours of operation on the streets that are temporarily closed is 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM. These temporary permits are valid June 1 - November 1. 

How does the “6-foot rule” work for restaurant seating?

If people are at a table together, they don’t need to be 6 feet apart. Each table setting needs to be 6’ from other tables measured from the back of each chair, chair-to-chair. 

My business or residence is located on a closed street. How can I access it? 

Street closures will be in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Commercial deliveries must be made before 11:00 AM. Temporary removal and replacement of barricades to permit deliveries is the responsibility of business owners. 

Residents’ vehicles may temporarily access the street for the purpose of loading or unloading items into/from their vehicle between the hours of 10:00 PM and 11:00 AM. No parking will be permitted. 

What about food trucks? 

Food trucks may continue to operate in their designated locations, in accordance with existing rules and regulations. Mobile seafood vendors may park and sell products out of parking spaces typically designated for food trucks. Seafood vendors must abide by food truck rules and regulations.

Who can I contact if I have additional questions? 

General questions and concerns can be directed to Dena Libner, Assistant to the City Manager for Constituent Services, at