By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – Get ready for some chilly dining in Massachusetts. Governor Charlie Baker says he’s signing an executive order to extend the period restaurants are permitted to use sidewalks and driveways as patios.

“You have to be pretty brave in the winter to stay outside,” said Ralph Rossi. He owns a store down the street from Bistro 5 in Medford, where restaurant owner Vittorio Ettore says he’s doubled what little business he has, since he set up an outdoor dining area in July.

“I am getting ready for the winter,” he said. “Already I am starting to look at heat lamps, and I’m working with the fire department to see what’s allowed.”

The governor stopped in at Bistro 5 Thursday, using it as a staging ground to announce the state is doubling its funding to help cities and towns accommodate outdoor dining and expand sidewalks during the pandemic, bringing the total amount to $10 million. “As it gets colder, the funding can always go toward heaters and special lighting,” said Baker.

Medford resident Olivia Juiliano said she won’t be eating outside in the cold. “We have a hard time getting our Public Works to do schools, so how are they going do the outdoor dining?”

“I’m sure they’re fully capable of plowing around the Jersey barriers,” said Medford Mayor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. “Our Department of Public Works has been nothing but speedy on helping restaurants obtain Jersey barriers within days…they are on board to help restaurants thrive and succeed,” she said.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association estimates about one-fifth of restaurants in the state have gone out of business since the pandemic began.

Christina Hager

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