The city of Pharr approved an ordinance that will allow local restaurants to provide outdoor dining at their establishments.

The ordinance, which was passed Monday, would allow Pharr restaurants to serve their patrons in an outdoor setting while following social distancing guidelines.

“This is going to be temporary,” said interim President/CEO of the Greater Pharr Chamber of Commerce Karina Lopez. “What it does is that it allows businesses to allow more patrons to dine at their restaurants. Local businesses and restaurants have been impacted by the pandemic, so restaurants are only allowed to serve 50% of their capacity.”

Lopez explained that many of the local businesses have limited square-footage within their facilities, which has forced many restaurants to resort to strictly carry-out or curbside as opposed to dine-in.

“Due to social distancing restrictions that have been issued, there’s a minimal amount of patrons that could actually be in restaurants and dining in. At the end of the day, it really affects the restaurants,” Lopez said.

“One of the initiatives that the city of Pharr wanted to push out was to provide Pharr businesses an opportunity to see if they can get a little bit more patrons to come in by utilizing 50% of their allotted parking area to use as temporary outdoor dining.”

The ordinance has already gone into effect. In order to begin outdoor dining, restaurants must first obtain a permit from the city.

“They have to fill out an application with Development Services here at the city of Pharr,” Lopez said. “The application is at no cost, and it will be available to the residents.”

Lopez said that the city and the chamber will continue to be innovative and try to find ways to get customers to local businesses safely in the coming weeks.

“We’ll probably see more of the effects in the coming weeks and the responses from the businesses,” Lopez said. “Essentially, we are supporting this as much as we can because the idea is that we’re here to assist in any way possible.”

“We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and this temporary outdoor dining permit will hopefully allow them to increase the amount of sales.”

The ordinance will likely be in effect until there is no longer a declaration of emergency.