Is it Illegal to Allow Dogs in Outdoor Areas of Massachusetts Restaurants?
Outdoor dining saw a massive boom in Massachusetts over the past two years as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world. With restaurants facing strict guidelines and patrons nervous to eat inside with the general public, the industry pivoted and embraced any outdoor space for seating that they could.
Restaurants that had already existing outdoor seating were ahead of the game, but eateries that did not scrambled to make use of parking lots, walkways, side lots, anywhere they could to fit tables and chairs, and in some cases outdoor heaters to try and gain back some of the patronage they had lost.
In Massachusetts, state and local legislators eased the permitting process to try and assist in the food and beverage industry, but some regulations didn't change. One of those is pets in outdoor sections of restaurants.
According to Massachusetts state law, 105 CMR 590.007 which follows the federal Food and Drug Administration’s regulations, “live animals may not be allowed on the premises of a food establishment”. Even though sections of the restaurant may be outdoors, it is still part of the premises, so pets are not allowed.
There are of course certain exceptions, which include fish in aquariums or edible live seafood under refrigeration or on display, live fish bait, patrol dogs accompanying police or security officers, and service animals in dining areas.
So unless your fur baby fits into one of those categories, you're out of luck.
However, there could be a glimmer of hope for Massachusetts dog owners as surrounding states. such as New Hampshire recently embarrassed new laws that would allow dogs in these outdoor areas of restaurants. According to NBC News Boston, Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill just this week that allows restaurant owners to allow dogs in any outdoor dining area.
It's not a complete free-for-all, however. In order to enter these outdoor areas, dogs must be licensed and vaccinated against rabies, they have to stay on the ground and they can't eat or drink using the restaurant's glasses, plates, or utensils. Restaurant employees are prohibited from petting or playing with any animals.
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