By Shereen Siewert

Qualifying Wausau taverns and restaurants can serve patrons outdoors through Dec. 31, after city officials this week approved a proposal that aims to offset the economic challenges prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary rule approved Tuesday allows local bars and taverns citywide to apply for temporary sidewalk cafe permits to serve alcoholic beverages in outdoor areas, maximizing social distancing. Those businesses can use public sidewalks, parking areas and open spaces to expand their service area between noon and 10 p.m..

Taverns must have 50 or fewer demerit points on the date of their application to qualify and the proposed outdoor area cannot be greater than 50 percent of the indoor licensed premises. The outdoor serving area must be entirely visible at all times from the indoor area or must have licensed bartenders located within and supervising the temporary outdoor area during operation.

An identical provision was in place last year from mid-July through Dec. 31.

The applications and permit procedure remains the same and starts with the city clerk’s office. Applications will undergo review by the clerk’s office and the Wausau Police Department.