OTTAWA -- Mayor Jim Watson wants to waive patio fees to help restaurants and bars during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Twitter, Watson said he will present a motion at Council Wednesday to waive patio fees for 2020, “to help our restaurants and small businesses get through these difficult times.”

Watson’s motion will also ask staff to report back to the Transportation Committee on June 3 with a plan providing options to expand patios on private and public property.

Watson says expanding patios would “ensure businesses can operate safely while respecting physical distancing between their customers and employees.”

Ottawa’s restaurants and bars have been closed for dine-in service since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watson told reporters last week that when restaurants reopen they will have to practice physical distancing, and there could be fewer places to sit.

“If we can help them, logistically if it works, to increase their seating capacity by allowing them to have a patio in which in the past they haven’t because they haven’t had the land, then I would be in support of that.”