Vilnius is allowing cafes and restaurants to set up tables in the city’s public spaces that were previously off-limits, according to a press release by Go Vilnius, the city’s development agency.
“Plazas, squares, and streets – nearby cafés will be able to set up outdoor tables free of charge this season and thus conduct their activities during quarantine,” Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius is quoted in the press release.
Vilnius’ public spaces – which until now have rarely been used for outdoor eating, such as the city‘s iconic Cathedral Square – are now open for this activity to support the city’s restaurants going through difficult times.
Cafes and restaurants have been allowed to reopen on Monday as part of Lithuania‘s gradual exit from the coronavirus lockdown. However, seating is only allowed outdoors and clients seated at different tables must be at least two metres apart. Combined with the narrow streets of Vilnius’ UNESCO-listed old town, the safety requirements would have meant only one or two tables per cafe.
“Vilnius’ offer to help our cafes and restaurants came just in time,” said Evada Šiškauskienė, the head of the Lithuanian Association of Hotels and Restaurants. “This additional space will help them accommodate more visitors and bring life back to the city streets without violating security requirements.”
As of Tuesday, more than 162 cafes, bars and restaurants have applied to inhabit the city’s public spaces with outdoor seating. Currently, 18 public spaces have been opened up, with the possibility to add more in the near future.
In celebration of Lithuania’s National Day of Medical Workers on April 27, Vilnius Municipality has also given out around €400,000 in restaurant vouchers to the city’s medical staff, which they can use at restaurants across the city.