SAN DIEGO – Time is running out on the City of San Diego’s emergency ordinance that’s allowed for outdoor dining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The city worked with us very well to do this temporary permit and it was a lifesaver — lifesaver for a lot of us down here it was it was fantastic to have it,” said Daniel Drayne, owner of The Field Irish Pub in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Hundreds of restaurants and bars have offered outdoor dining through the city’s Temporary Outdoor Business Operations permits. Next month, however, those permits are set to expire.

If businesses want to continue with their outdoor options, they must now apply for a new so-called Spaces As Places permit, which will come with more regulation and safety requirements.

“There’s requirements to limit the size of the decks so emergency operations can occur. There’s no overhead roof structures allowed, no electrical wiring allowed to cross the sidewalk, either at grade or in the air and we’re expecting solar lighting to be utilized,” said Chris Larson, the program coordinator. “We need plans submitted to the city where we will have our engineers review those plans. We’ll issue permits and then we’ll have the inspectors inspect the work as it’s done.”

Larson says the new permits are only for eating and drinking establishments. Of the 500 businesses with temporary permits – only around 20 have applied for the Spaces As Places permits so far.

The deadline for the application is July 13.

Drayne says he got in his application right away, after already spending thousands of dollars on his structure and modifications.

“I think it’ll make a great difference. It’s going to be a permanent basis, so everybody conforming to the city regulations, which you know, everybody can do that and I think it’ll be very very beneficial for everybody down here. I think the customers are going to love it,” said Drayne.

Peter Morales, who runs Operacaffe, says he’s worried that the city will require him to have a smaller and less sturdy patio.

“I wanna do the right thing, but I wanna look out for the safety of the customer. I think that’s more important than, than having a structure that’s just a fence and some water barricades. I don’t think that’s going to be safe for people,” said Morales.

City officials say any businesses that apply before the deadline can continue operating under the temporary permit until the new one can be processed.