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As I See It

Is al fresco the answer to helping local businesses survive?

Scott Robert Shaw

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It still feels safer outside. Many customers continue to avoid rushing back to stores, especially restaurants. We have done our best to support our favorite restaurants during the pandemic, ordering lots of takeout. But many restaurants, and other businesses, are struggling to do the level of business they did before the virus. Is al fresco the answer? La Crosse’s Downtown Mainstreet group is petitioning the city to allow downtown businesses to do business on the sidewalk. They say customers would feel more comfortable doing business in the open air, and that the city should waive the rules for sidewalk sales. The city of Racine has done just that. They have waived the fees for sidewalk café licenses, and is allowing them city-wide. As the pandemic continues to rage in our area, with a new surge in cases, the city of La Crosse should follow suit. La Crosse has long had draconian rules regarding doing business on city sidewalks. Of course they have to be respectful of the disabled and leave room for those needing the sidewalks. But as the weather warms, allowing local businesses to peddle their wares on sidewalks would help keep people outside and physically distant. It is a safer option, that can help local businesses succeed. La Crosse should follow Racine’s lead, and change the rules. See you on the sidewalks.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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