Vilnius revives outdoor cafés
The municipality offers city spaces to catering establishments for free and encourages customers to purchase vouchers
- April 28, 2020 16:00
Vilnius City Municipality announced on Friday afternoon that, due to the coronavirus lockdown, it would open, free of charge, all public spaces in Lithuania’s capital for outdoor catering establishments. Owners did not need a second prodding and jumped to the opportunity.
The response was so fast that the municipality informed yesterday it had received 151 applications from restaurants, cafes and bars in just one working day. The municipal support measure was greeted as a lifesaver, as restaurants and cafes had been left with just two options to earn money and keep jobs: takeaway food and outdoor tables.
However, under quarantine rules, many previously frequented outdoor cafes could not operate due to short distances to buildings or walkways, and some restaurants did not have access to outdoor spaces where to set tables. Under the rules, outdoor cafés are only allowed to operate if they ensure a 1 m distance to pedestrian ways and a 2 m distance between customers sitting at different tables.
Initially, the municipality published a map of 18 locations for outdoor cafes in the Old Town of Vilnius, including the Town Hall Square, Vokiečių Street, Europa Square, Gediminas Avenue, K. Sirvydas Courtyard etc. More locations across the city will become available.
"The activity is very high, which shows that catering establishments see this opportunity as efficient and essential to the survival of their business,” said the Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius, quoted by the city website.
Applications will be divided into three categories and permits will be issued first to those establishments which would not require changes in pedestrian movement and road traffic. The municipal support package for the catering business stipulates that outdoor cafés will be exempt from charges for the duration of 2020. Also, food trucks with a license for at least one neighbourhood will be allowed to operate throughout the city without obtaining a separate permission.
Buy now, use later
The Vilnius City Municipality also took over the newly launched project talonai.lt. It encourages Vilnius residents to buy services from their favourite catering establishments now and use the vouchers later, when they reopen, to prevent these businesses from collapsing in the thick of the Covid-19 crisis.
142 Vilnius companies providing catering and other services have already registered on the project page and 632 vouchers have been purchased to a total amount of 9 200 euros. In the near future, the municipality plans to strengthen the project with an outdoor advertising campaign.
The municipality also announced that, on the occasion of the Medical Workers' Day, every physician in the capital will receive a gift voucher worth EUR 25, which can be spent on cultural and catering companies operating in Vilnius.
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