Starting today, businesses can apply for free winter permits to use street space for physical distancing, Nov. 1 through March 31, 2021
(Oct. 2, 2020) Building on the success of a wildly popular program that has helped more than 700 businesses reopen safely by using city streets, the Portland Bureau of Transportation today announced the Winter Healthy Businesses Program, a free program to enable businesses to safely stay open this winter.
The program provides a one-stop permit application process for businesses that would like to use space on city sidewalks or streets to operate while preserving physical distancing required for customers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The applications and permits are free.
"Now more than ever, it is crucial for us to support local businesses in Portland," Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said. "We moved quickly to make our public space available this summer, and dozens of businesses have told us they have been able to rehire staff and reopen. I can't wait to see how local entrepreneurs and artists express their creativity on our streets and sidewalks this winter."
"At PBOT, we know Portlanders love to gather in our streets and sidewalks," said Transportation Director Chris Warner. "With the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor public space provides a crucial venue for businesses that want to reopen, while ensuring the safety of their employees and customers. We encourage Portlanders to support these businesses and work with us to provide safe operations this winter."
The Healthy Businesses Program was launched in late May, as part of PBOT's Safe Streets Initiative, part of the City of Portland's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses were allowed to operate using public space when Multnomah County entered Phase 1 on June 19, with permits that expire Nov. 1.
PBOT will continue to gather input from businesses and community members through the winter before deciding whether to extend the program again, beyond March 31. The bureau will also continue to evaluate the potential to re-create it as a permanent program.
Permit requirements ensure public access, safe space for business operations
Special conditions for winter require new safety guidance, new permits
With the rain, cooler temperatures and other elements of Portland's fall and winter weather, businesses will want to provide heat, shelter and other new elements that they did not consider during the summer.
In addition, seasonal street cleaning and special Leaf Day service -- as well as the prospect of wind, snow and ice and other severe conditions -- mean businesses will have different needs than during the summer months. They will need to secure or remove on-street furnishings during severe weather.
The Winter Healthy Businesses Program allows businesses to have tents in on-street parking spaces. It provides guidance for the use of extension cords and heaters. It prohibits tents within 50 feet of an intersection, for visibility and safety of the traveling public, unless an exception is granted. For full details about the programs conditions, see the Healthy Businesses Program website.
Businesses will be required to adhere to all COVID-19 safety guidance from Multnomah County and fire safety guidance for the use of tents for reopening from Portland Fire & Rescue’s Fire Marshal’s Office.
Businesses planning to use outdoor space on private property, such as off-street parking lots, may be able to place furniture and other temporary improvements without a permit from the City of Portland. See guidance from the Bureau of Development Services for reopening restaurants and other retailers.
Applications accepted, starting today
Starting today, businesses can apply online for a Winter Healthy Businesses permit. Businesses that have a permit for the program that started in June should apply by Oct. 25, to have a permit processed by Nov. 1, for continuous operation.
New applicants, or applicants that don’t need a permit to start Nov. 1, can apply at any time.
This is NOT an automatic extension of permits that were issued since June, which expire Nov. 1. Public and private agencies delayed many maintenance, infrastructure and utility projects over the summer to make way for access for Healthy Businesses program access. Many of those delayed projects will need access to city streets and sidewalks to conduct their work this winter, and may require businesses with Healthy Business permits to cease or relocate operations temporarily for days or weeks.
PBOT will review all permits on a case-by-case basis. The bureau's goal is to continue to keep our streets and sidewalks safe for everyone while ensuring the least interruption to businesses’ operations as possible. In the event we cannot approve an application, PBOT staff will work with businesses to explore any alternative ways to serve customers.
For businesses with locations that have difficulty complying with the winter program, staff will provide extensions of the Nov. 1 permit expiration on a case-by-case basis.
PBOT staff will work with industry and community groups to offer webinars in the coming weeks, to answer questions and share more information.
Learn more and apply online at the
Learn more about the City's response to the COVID-19 pandemic
For more information about the City of Portland’s response to COVID-19, see the City’s Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 website. Multnomah County is the City’s primary resource for public health information. Get public health information and guidance, resources, and updates regarding COVID-19 from the County’s website.