Those who enjoyed eating and drinking al fresco in Denver during the summer have another full year to dine al fresco on the streets and sidewalks.

The city announced Tuesday that its relaxed restrictions on expanded restaurant and bar terraces would remain in place through October 2021. They were originally supposed to expire at the end of October.

“We are proud that this program has been an elixir of life for expanding service capacity to keep Denver business open and employees up and running,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a press release. “We will be working with restaurants and bars on creative models that will allow them to extend this program through the cold months while maintaining strict protections to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.”

In order to continue to participate, companies can apply for an extension of the terrace extension by three to four months. So far, 333 restaurants and bars have been approved in Denver to expand their courtyards, according to the city.

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And last week, a new guide to Winter Patios was released, in which the city better defines indoor and outdoor dining areas during the winter months.

Denver area restaurants are already starting to overwinter their outdoor patios and indoor seating. Greenhouses, domes, yurts, igloos and more are on the table as potential pandemic-friendly winter dining rooms.

In Larimer Square, one of the first streets to close for al fresco dining in the summer, new restaurateur Michael Swift took advantage of the increased foot traffic by operating a Chinese food truck on the block. It’s a preview of its upcoming Bao Brewhouse restaurant and tea room, which opens around the corner on 14th Street next month.

Swift said he hoped the laid-back rules for outdoor eating remain permanent. He even designed foods in his new restaurant that can be eaten outdoors. And he would like the restrictions to be relaxed even further so that restaurant and bar customers with alcoholic beverages in hand can legally walk on pedestrianized streets.

Changes like this can be bright spots for businesses and consumers during an otherwise catastrophic pandemic, he said. “Let’s give people the opportunity to do things that they normally couldn’t do.”

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