Lithuanian city will become one big open-air cafe as lockdown is lifted

Lithuania’s capital city will be transformed into one big open-air cafe to allow for physical distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report.

Much of Vilnius’ streets and public spaces will be given over to hard-hit bars and restaurants so they can reopen while still observing guidelines aimed at curbing spread of the virus, The Newzandar News reported.

The Baltic state — which has recorded 1,344 cases of COVID-19 and 44 deaths — allowed cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, hairdressers and nearly all shops to begin reopening this week.

But the city’s old town is a Unesco-listed world heritage site with narrow streets that made it almost impossible for bars and restaurants to follow rules mandating that tables must be at least 6-feet apart.

The mayor announced the initiative to offer up 18 of the city’s public spaces, such as its Cathedral Square, on Friday, and by Monday more than 160 business owners had applied to take part, according to the report.

“It came just in time,” said Evalda Šiškauskienė of the Lithuanian Association of Hotels and Restaurants, adding that the initiative would help members “accommodate more visitors and bring life back to the city streets, but without violating security requirements.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that he would close up to 100 miles of streets so residents can safely practice social distancing.

Asked about the possibility that restaurants and bars would be able to set up tables in that space, Hizzoner called the idea “interesting” and said his administration has “thought about it” and “begun discussions,” according to Eater.


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