BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore restaurants operating on outdoor seating during the coronavirus pandemic are facing cold weather, but the city said it is working on heating solutions to keep them in business.

“If you are a restaurant and you’re seeking to get a heating solution for outdoors, as we go into the colder months, you will be able to do that in an expedited fashion,” city officials said.

The city has cut down the process for setting up outdoor heating, adjusting the timeline from a month to three business days.

All fees associated with heating for restaurants will be waived, officials said. Restaurants should call the city’s Fire Marshal’s Office at 410-396-5752 for more information.

While they recommend the businesses use propane-fueled heaters, electric heaters are allowed; however, the fire code does not allow restaurants to use an extension cord for electric heaters.

They reminded that heating devices can only be within five feet of a table or a chair or a wall.

The city is also still working on its “Design for Distancing” initiative, setting up areas on sidewalks and parking lanes for seating, dining and queuing for local restaurants. There are currently 16 installations going up in the city’s commercial districts, officials said.

Mayor Young also announced an additional $2 million in funds for Baltimore’s small businesses, to support the city’s reopening and continued recovery.

“Baltimore’s small businesses have been agile in their response to COVID-19, and we must not relent in our efforts to assist our small businesses during this time.” Mayor Young said. “The Small Business Assistance Fund, administered by BDC, has helped businesses throughout our City and these additional resources will address ongoing operational challenges as we continue to fight the global pandemic.”

Businesses can apply for up to $15,000 in grants for expenses including rent, payroll and buying PPE necessary to stay open.

“By the number of grant applications we received during the first round, it was very evident that there are still many businesses that are struggling,” said Colin Tarbert, president and CEO of BDC. “This additional funding will enable us to assist even more businesses.”

Small businesses will need to apply to request funding and must provide the necessary documentation. For more on if you are eligible and how to apply, check out their website on October 5 when they will release more information.

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.

CBS Baltimore Staff

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