We've still got several more weeks of winter ahead of us, and given the arduous length of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are clamoring for warmer weather and safe, outdoor dining on the Seacoast.

Exactly that was a significant topic presented to Portsmouth City Council this week. Will outdoor dining fees for restaurants be waived? When will there be more outdoor seating options beyond heated igloos? And what about insurance requirements?

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To answer that first question, restaurants will once again have their outdoor dining fees waived once again in 2021, which means eateries will not have to pay for their outdoor seating licenses as was also the case in 2020. This will make it easier for Portsmouth restaurants to offer outdoor seating, which is a preferred method of public dining by many amid an ongoing pandemic.

Secondly, it is expected that March 1 could be a target date for the general return of outdoor dining in Portsmouth. City Councilor John Tabor, who made the motion to waive the fees, said restaurants are already applying for those 2021 licenses.

Additionally, there will be reduced insurance requirements for restaurants, dropping from $3 million to $1 million, which falls more in line with what other Seacoast municipalities require.

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