Temporary Outdoor Seating Permit

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Current Size: 80%

Temporary outdoor seating area permits are newly created or expanded exterior spaces at restaurants, cafes, breweries, and similar establishments that are operational during the Covid-19 crisis. These temporary spaces are intended to assist businesses with serving customers while complying with mandatory requirements of the Governor’s reopening plan: Forward Virginia.

Building permits must be applied for and approval must be issued by the City prior to establishing and operating temporary outdoor seating areas. For businesses interested in serving alcoholic beverages, an approved City temporary outdoor seating area permit is required to apply for a permit from Virginia’s Alcohol Beverage Control Authority (VA ABC).

Note: The business is responsible for meeting physical distancing and other requirements established by the Governor’s Executive Order 61 and any subsequent orders, as well as, the requirements of the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority (VA ABC).



  • All existing restaurants, cafes, breweries, and similar establishments with a valid certificate of occupancy may apply.
  • Existing outdoor seating is not a prerequisite.
  • Expansion of an existing outdoor seating area requires a temporary outdoor seating area permit for the expanded area.


To apply for a building permit, complete one of the following:

  • Complete and print the "Building Permit Application Form" and submit it along with a total application fee of $61.20 (make check payable to “City of Harrisonburg”) to Building Inspections Division, Community Development, 409 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA 22801 or use the a drop box available in the parking lot of City Hall, 409 South Main Street. 
  • Go to https://permits.harrisonburgva.gov/, and apply for the “Remodel/Renovation,/Alteration” permit. Payment of the application fee can be made online and is subject to a convenience fee. 


Include supporting materials with your application:

  • A seating layout must be provided showing the following:
    • A map or site plan illustrating the location of the outdoor seating on the property
    • Dimensions of the outdoor area, size of tables, and distances between tables
    • Points of access/egress, width of opening, gate size(s) (if applicable), and hardware (if applicable) 
    • If serving alcohol, show the barrier used surrounding the outdoor area
    • Other temporary elements such as canopies, umbrellas, planters, etc.
    • Provision for accessible seating (i.e. for users of wheelchairs) is required 
    • All seating, tables, and ABC fencing areas must be at least six (6) feet away from a City sidewalk to meet the Governor's Forward Virginia Phase One requirements
    • Note: If the seating layout exceeds 49 people, it will need to be designed by a VA registered design professional. 
  • If the creation or expansion of the temporary outdoor seating area will be located on private property not currently controlled by the business, provide a Statement of Consent from the property owner to include owner’s name, title, address, phone number, and email.


The following reviews will take place:

  • Building codes will review for proper egress, bathroom capacity, etc. 
  • Fire Department will be reviewing the application to confirm the temporary outdoor seating will not be located within a fire lane.
  • Zoning will confirm parking requirements are met based on the temporary square footage of operation. 


Temporary outdoor seating area permits are not to exceed any of the following, whichever is less:

  • 180 days
  • The complete re-opening of inside seating
  • A partial or complete re-opening of inside seating where the total seating would exceed the January 1, 2020 approved inside and outside occupant load totals. 


Additional Resources:


To report any problems with the links or other content on this page, please email Nyrma.Soffel@harrisonburgva.gov.