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SLC launches "Open Streets" program to help bring life back to downtown vendors during pandemic

Posted at 9:15 PM, Sep 17, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City attempts to reignite new energy downtown during the pandemic through a series of weekend events that kicked off Thursday night.

Main Street was closed from 300 South to 400 South to allow a pedestrian walkway. Bars, restaurants and stores were allowed to expand their services to the curb.

Alibi Bar was able to double their seating, which essentially restored the customer space removed by county social distancing guidelines.

“Before all of this, it was just those tables there and whatever a you see inside,” said customer Kayla McKay.

Alibi co-owner Jacob Hall was also able to double the number of employees working.

“We don’t really believe in returning things to normal but mores of a progression. This is a huge step towards progression,” said Hall.

The “Open Streets” Program launched by Downtown Alliance wants to entice 2,000 new people downtown each weekend through mid-October.

It provides space to physically distance while staying social in an area hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

“All of a sudden, our downtown customers aren’t here,” said Downtown Alliance Executive Director Dee Brewer.

Recently, The Utah Restaurant Association reported one in ten restaurants and bars permanently closed since March.

In Salt Lake City, fewer than 25 percent of workers are going to their offices. Critical conventions and events remain cancelled.

“We are creating one energy here with the entertainment and the performers so the people can come down and enjoy their favorite restaurants, walk around and have an experience downtown,” said Brewer.

“This is going to be huge for us,” said Hall.

The event runs from 6-10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays through October 10.