Cities, towns and villages in Oneida County may soon able to temporarily lift zoning and open-container restictions to let local businesses serve customers outside.

Oneida County Executice Anthony Picente said he'd soon be discussing a 'Restaurant Rescue Plan' with local municipal leaders, ''We have to find ways to live with this virus, not hide from it.... There are safe ways to live our lives and to conduct business,'' he said.

Picente referenced a study that estimated 40% of local businesses could shutter due to the lost income during the pandemic. And, even when establishments are allowed to open their doors to the public, Picente said they'll almost certainly face capacity limits. Creative and 'outside the box' thinking would be needed to assist them, he said.

While some local establishments are licensed to serve customers with outside seating, many are not. Municipalities would be allowed to lift those restrictions on businesses who don't. This could include outside seating for restaurants and outsdie sales for retailers. The county executive also mentioned the possibility of municipalities being given the authority to lift open container restrictions to ''help meet business needs in their given communities.''

Picente has written the governor's office and the NYS Liquor Authority about his plan, nsaing the authority is facing a backlog of cases that would only slow the normal approval process.

The county executive also said he'd being talking with religious institutions and libraries to discuss plans for their safe re-opening as well.

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