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BOULDER — Several blocks along Pearl Street and on University Hill will close starting Friday to provide pedestrian-friendly zones where restaurants and retailers can expand operations into the street.

The temporary closures will be in effect on Pearl between Ninth and 11th streets and along Event Street a half-block west of Pennsylvania Avenue to 13th Street.

“This is infrastructure that was built for this kind of flexible retrofitting,” Boulder assistant city manager Yvette Bowden said of those roadways.

The city is purchasing rather than renting barricades to create the pedestrian zones so the closures could be implemented in the future if the need arises. The barricades are expected to be delivered and installed early Friday.

The closures come amid a series of local and state moves — included in the limited reopening of restaurants for in-store dining Wednesday — aimed at providing a life raft for the hospitality and retail sectors that have been devastated by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Restaurants, like all retailers, are a very important segment of the community that contribute to the economy and our local quality of life,” Bowden said.

Boulder is allowing restaurants throughout the city to begin expanding their operations to sidewalks, alleys and parking lots.

“We’ve established some standards that are really designed to be flexible and encourage simple outdoor seating elements that don’t require separate building permits or additional time and costs,” Boulder’s development review manager and economic recovery coordinator Charles Ferro said.

While businesses owners must apply for the expansion, they need not wait for official inspections or approvals to start serving food — simply submitting an application is enough to get started. Alcohol sales do, however, require approval before service can begin.

City officials mulled the possibility of launching a program that would help restaurants obtain outdoor seating and furniture. But it remains unclear how that could be done equitably, so the idea has been scrapped for now.

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