Restaurant: Temporary Outdoor Dining Area 

4/12/2022 Update
On April 1, 2022, Governor Baker signed a bill that extends the local authorization for outdoor table service through April 1, 2023.

Adopted by the Board of Selectmen on June 10, 2020                                                                           

As Massachusetts re-opens the economy, many restaurants will be seeking to temporarily add or expand existing outdoor seating. In an effort to make this process easier for Middleton’s restaurants, the town has developed the following guidance which includes the minimum requirements from all relevant town departments. Additionally, the town has streamlined the process and any usual town application and permit fees related to these changes will be waived. It is the Town’s goal to complete permit applications within two working days of receiving each application. We will try our best to meet this goal.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will be publishing guidance and updates throughout the re-opening process (  All State requirements must be met.

Please carefully review all guidance documents issued by the State as well as the town requirements listed below.

State Guidance and Documents

Town of Middleton Requirements


Approvals for temporary outdoor seating areas and related tent permits will expire on November 1, 2020, or the date State COVID-19 Order No. 35 is rescinded (whichever is sooner).

ADA Compliance

All areas shall comply with ADA accessibility requirements. Any seating located on a public sidewalk or walkway must maintain 5 feet of clear access. Pedestrian access to and from tents or seating areas must have clearly designated access ways.


Outdoor table service may be provided under awnings or table umbrellas or other cover from the elements, provided, however, that at least 50% of the perimeter of any covered dining space must remain open and unobstructed by any form of siding or barriers at all times. If installing a tent, a joint Tent Permit must be obtained from the Building Department and Fire Department.

  • A certificate of flame resistance must be submitted and approved.
  • All tents must comply with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code (527 CMR) and the Massachusetts Building Code (780 CMR sections 108, 34, 10 and chapter 24 of the International Fire Code). Tent rental companies should be familiar with codes.
  • Tents must have an approved fire extinguisher on site.
  • Exit signage and lighting may be required.
  • At least 50% of tents’ sides must remain open to the outside.
  • All gas appliances (heaters, grills, etc.) must meet all Fire Code and Gas Code requirements. They must be inspected if required. Carbon Monoxide detectors may be required.



If seating is in a public space, a certificate of liability insurance naming the Town of Middleton as an additional insured is required. Please contact the Town Administrator’s Office for more information.


All temporary outdoor seating spaces shall be inspected by the town’s outdoor inspection team prior to occupancy. 

Clear Access

Fire lanes, exits, hydrants, fire department connections, and other features of fire protection must be kept clear.

Responsibilities of Restaurants

The restaurant, through its owner and/or manager, is responsible for the following as it pertains to the use of the proposed area/parking lot for outdoor dining:

  1. Food and Alcoholic beverages may not be served outside of a licensed establishment unless and until an application to extend the licensed premises has been approved.
  2. An application to extend the premises must describe the area in detail, including dimensions, seating capacity, and maximum occupancy.
  3. The premises must be enclosed by a fence, rope, or other means to prevent access from a public walkway and/or by suitable vehicle barriers if located in parking lot
  4. The outdoor area must be contiguous to the licensed premises with either (a) a clear view of the area from inside the premises, or, alternatively (b) the licensee may commit to providing management personnel dedicated to the area.
  5. The applicant must have a lease or documents for the right to occupy the proposed area.
  6. Outdoor areas, where alcohol is served to patrons who are seated at the tables, must also provide food.
  7. The applicant must adhere to the plans and documents submitted, reviewed, and approved.
  8. The applicant must procure tables, chairs, disinfecting stations, and any other physical items that will be used in the outdoor dining area.
  9. Pets other than service animals are not allowed in Temporary Outdoor Seating Areas.
  10. The applicant must provide evidence of liability insurance to the Town covering the new dining space.
  11. Entertainment is not a part of this permitting process and must be permitted separately.
  12. Tents will be reviewed for COVID-19 compliance as a part of this process, but must also receive a building permit. 
  13. The restaurant’s maximum number of seats authorized for the premises shall not be exceeded outdoors, indoors, or by a combination of outdoor and indoor seating, at any given time during the life of the temporary permit.
  14. Portable restrooms are not allowed in conjunction with proposed outdoor seating.

For additional information regarding COVID safety and sector-specific guidance for reopening, go to:

Rights of the Town of Middleton

The decision to deny any application is final, with no local appeal, and is at the discretion of the town.  Denials will be based on, but not limited to, the following reasons:

  1. The application is for a business, which does not have the appropriate licensure for service of food, and where applicable, alcohol, including all requisite licenses/permits, such as: (1) alcohol license for on-premises consumption; (2) food permit; (3) common victualler.
  2. The operation of the outdoor dining area cannot, as presented, be in compliance with safety protocols;
  3. The outdoor dining area cannot, as presented, facilitate safe passage in accordance with Americans with Disability Act requirements.
  4. The Health Dept., Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Board of Health or their designees determine that the operation of the outdoor dining area may negatively impact public health and safety.

Revocation of Permit­  

The town reserves the right to revoke its permission to allow the use of the parking lot for outdoor dining for the following reasons:

  1. The operation of the outdoor dining area is not in compliance with submitted safety protocols;
  2. The outdoor dining area is not facilitating safe passage in accordance with Americans with Disability Act requirements.
  3. The Health Dept., Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Board of Health or their designees determine that the operation of the outdoor dining area is negatively impacting public health and safety.


Temporary Outdoor Dining Area Online Application