BETHESDA, Md. — Four blocks of downtown Bethesda will be closed to traffic for up to 11 hours a day to allow dozens of restaurants to expand their outdoor dining capacity, as Montgomery County continues to recover from COVID-19.
Montgomery County restaurants were allowed to reopen for outdoor dining with strict social distancing requirements in place, beginning June 1. Restrictions include keeping diners at least six feet away from each other (except for family members) and limits on the number of people sitting at one table.
Many restaurants are struggling to comply with seating requirements given a shortage of outdoor dining space. In an effort to accommodate, several areas are shutting down streets to car traffic, to allow restaurants to set up socially distanced tables in parking lots and in the streets.
Bethesda streets close to make space for outdoor dining
The Bethesda Urban Partnership is launching a "Bethesda Streetery" dining concept beginning June 10, which will temporarily close several blocks in downtown Bethesda to allow diners to eat food they have picked up from Bethesda restaurants outdoors. No table will be closer than six feet, no more than four people can sit together and tables must be cleaned after each use.
"There are so many restaurants that are struggling because they're not really set up for carryout," Susan Lennon, the owner of Smokes Barbeque on Cordell Avenue, said. "So having the opportunity to put a food court out on the street will attract a lot more people to come sit outside and have dinner."
These blocks/streets will be closed 11 a.m.– 10 p.m. starting June 10:
- Norfolk Avenue, between St. Elmo Avenue and Cordell Avenue
- Norfolk Avenue, between Cordell Avenue and Del Ray Avenue
- Woodmont Avenue, between Elm Street and Bethesda Avenue
- Veterans Park, corner of Norfolk and Woodmont Avenues
- Cordell Avenue, between the parking garage near Old Georgetown Road and Triangle Towers (only Wednesday-Sunday from 4-10 p.m. on Cordell Avenue)
"It's also to provide a place where the community can come together, enjoy the community and heal through this process," Jeff Burton, the executive director of the Bethesda Urban Partnership, said.
According to Burton Bethesda is one of the most densely-packed restaurant districts in the country.