BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Restaurant owners in Little Italy are proposing an idea they believe could be a way to safely reopen.

They’re calling it “curb-side plus.” The idea behind it involves shutting down streets and allowing people to dine outside while social distancing to help keep restaurants in business.

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“In a few weeks, if we continue at this rate, they’ll be nothing left to save,” Sergio Vitali, Chef and Owner of Aldo’s Ristorante, said.

It’s a sobering warning from Vitali.

“The businesses will be shuttered permanently,” he said.

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Curbside plus would allow restaurants to put tables outside on the streets while social distancing and adhering to safety protocols, Vitali said.

“Which allows us to put tables outside, socially distance while still respecting safety protocols,” Vitali said.

It requires closing off some streets to do it.

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But when Vitali reached out to Mayor Jack Young’s office, he was told the Mayor wouldn’t allow it.

Mayor Jack Young’s office told WJZ  in a statement Tuesday that, “right now the governor’s order prohibits outdoor seating,” adding, “he’d consider the proposal if conditions allow for it.”   

Annapolis shops and restaurants petitioned shutting down streets in April, and the Baltimore County Executive’s Office is discussing with Towson restaurants to allow for an outdoor food court.

“I’d feel safe eating outside, even if there are other people in the area, as opposed to inside,” Jeff Jackson, a Baltimore resident, said.

One local doctor agrees.

“I’m totally for it. Shut down lots of streets. Keep people outside, there’s definitely less risk of transmission,” Dr. Scott Krugman, at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, said.

Vitali said his restaurant depends on this idea.

“It’s only personal for us business owners because we’ve staked our lives and our businesses,” Vitali said. “We’ve taken a risk in Baltimore City.”

“It would be really sad to see so many things shut down,” Mallory Jackson, a local resident, said. “It just wouldn’t have the same kind of energy and bring the same kind of life to the city.”

If you would like to see the petition Vitale has started, click here.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Annie Rose Ramos