GUELPH -- The City of Guelph has doubled down on helping businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic by creating the dining district.

Parts of downtown streets have been closed off until Monday morning to allow for restaurants to expand their patios.

“This is the time to remove as many hurdles as possible to help businesses succeed during this time,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “The vibe here is awesome.”

Frank & Steins co-owner Dario Direnzo says they expect to have about 30-34 tables out on the street.

Inside, they have the capacity to fit about 228 people, but with the new tables outside they can fit around 200.

“I think we’re creating a destination for the city or a hub where people can come and walk around and have that European kind of feel,” said Direnzo.

Rise & Shine Brunch opened only a week ago and has had to rebrand due to COVID-19, but is happy to see the dining district blossom.

“This is very exciting for us, it actually gives us hope” said Katrina Marshall of Rise & Shine. “I have four new staff because of the extension on the patio.”

Streets in Fergus and Elora have also been closed off to make more room for people to safely spread out.

The dining district is temporary as of now, as businesses have to comply with public health requirements and provincial orders.

Guelph city officials say they will monitor the pilot project for the weekend, and if all goes well, they will continue it every weekend for the rest of the summer.