Sidewalk cafes, outdoor retail space now can open in Wyandotte County

Because of COVID-19, some of the rules governing restaurants and retail stores have been loosened to allow sidewalk cafes and retail space.

The Unified Government Commission approved the rules on June 4 and they went into effect on June 11, after publication.

The ordinance and resolution allows some businesses to use public rights-of-way as additional space to do business.

Businesses that are listed can offer outdoor sales on sidewalks, yards, in surplus off-street parking and in parklets, with certain restrictions. The “parklets” are parking spaces that temporarily can be turned into a sidewalk extension in order to provide more amenities and space for people using the street.

The ordinance temporarily will suspend enforcement of certain sections of existing Unified Government code of ordinances in order to provide Wyandotte County businesses trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic more space in which to operate in accordance with guidelines asking them to provide adequate room for proper social distancing between staff and customers.

“Recognizing Wyandotte County businesses would need assistance and flexibility as they worked to get their operations back up and running, I previously directed UG staff to identify opportunities and areas in which we might be able to help and support in that recovery process,” Mayor David Alvey stated. “This new ordinance allows businesses to temporarily create added outdoor space for retail customer sales, utilizing sidewalks, parking lot spaces, and other areas to sell their products and serve their customers, while still maintaining proper social distancing guidelines. It’s a win-win situation for residents and business owners, and a common sense approach to governing in these unique and unprecedented times.”

“In essence, the ordinance effectively legalizes sidewalk cafes, open-air markets and other retail spaces in what are normally public rights-of-way,” said Gunnar Hand, UG director of urban planning. “These common areas are the most valuable and widely used public open spaces in our community. The ordinance is a dramatic statement that allows this space to create a safer, more dynamic, and supportive environment for businesses.”

The Ordinance goes effect on June 11 and lasts until 11:50 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2020. It allows businesses within Wyandotte County to temporarily use the public right-of-way for the sale of goods as long appropriate access to services can be provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that social distancing is maintained. This means maintaining a distance of at least six feet between workers, customers, and others while in public.

Businesses allowed to provide service within the public right-of-way include:

• Bars and restaurants
• Traditional retail
• Arts and crafts
• Book stores
• Jewelry stores
• Offices
• Nonprofit organizations

Businesses not covered by the ordinance include those providing any type of repair service, or any sales of appliances, electronics, or machinery.

Businesses providing alcohol sales are required to go through the normal Kansas Alcohol Beverage Control approvals process. Failing to do so will trigger an automatic review.

Other restrictions apply to businesses taking advantage of the terms of the ordinance, including:
• All temporary parklets and other temporary structures used for outdoor sales such as pop-up tents will only be allowed during regular business hours.
• Any items (such as merchandise, tables, chairs, etc.) brought into the public right-of-way are required to be stored in the associated business each night.

Unified Government Health officials caution that it’s important to continue to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 remains a threat in our community,” said Dr. Allen Greiner, chief medical officer with the Unified Government Health Department. “While it’s exciting to see our businesses reopening, everyone needs to continue to practice safe social distancing, wear a mask when in public, stay home and seek testing if you are sick, and continue with excellent hygiene such as washing your hands frequently with soap and water, covering your cough and not touching your face with your hands. It’s the combination of these actions that has been most effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Residents or business owners with questions about this change may contact 3-1-1.

The ordinance and resolution are online at for “Special Session 6/4/20” under the “Agendas and Minutes” section. 

  • Information from Unified Government

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