TOSAs were established to help restaurants and business establishments expand outdoor seating capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. A provision within the Continuity of Governance Ordinance accommodated TOSAs for six months after the County Manager declares the end of the local emergency. During the January 21, 2023 County Board meeting, the County voted to adopt the resolution to extend the TOSA program August 2023.
Under the TOSA guidelines in place since July 2020, the combined number of indoor and outdoor patrons served at any given time cannot exceed the indoor capacity OR the indoor and outdoor capacity if the restaurant had an existing outdoor café.
Restaurants that wish to seat indoor dining rooms at 100 percent of the capacity listed on their Certificate of Occupancy (CO) and continue to operate a TOSA at any capacity MUST apply for a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO). The first step to obtain a TCO is to schedule a free code consultation with Arlington’s Inspection Services Division (ISD) to discuss capacity, layout, and related details. Code consultations may be scheduled by completing a request form and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To ensure the safety of all restaurant staff and patrons, Virginia Building and Fire Prevention Code regulates capacity limitations. For this reason, the ability to obtain a TCO for a TOSA will depend on a restaurant’s individual circumstances and existing indoor and/or outdoor capacity. Receiving a TCO does not increase the allowed indoor seating capacity. The existing Certificate of Occupancy still applies to indoor seating limits.
Alcohol sales in temporary outdoor seating areas are regulated by Virginia ABC. Businesses interested in serving alcoholic beverages in their TOSA should contact Virginia’s Alcohol Beverage Control Authority (VA ABC).
To report concerns about possible non-compliance issues in public spaces, submit an online report. County enforcement teams will follow up. Using the online form is the preferred alternative to calling the County’s non-emergency number.