The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) says it is considering short-term exceptions to the fair market value (FMV) requirement for the temporary use of sidewalks and public parking areas in the highway right-of-way (ROW) as additional restaurant seating or retail space.

The exceptions would provide more space for restaurants and stores to serve their customers at a safe distance. The FHWA says States must implement proper safety measures to protect both clients and employees in the ROW area, including ensuring safety for drivers and pedestrians.

“America’s restaurants and retailers are the engine of our economy,” said Federal Highway Administrator Nicole R. Nason. “Without compromising safety, the FHWA wants to help these businesses find a way to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 public health emergency and continue to operate.”

The FHWA says it is supporting States as communities seek innovative ways to safely reopen the economy while social distancing.