Water-filled plastic barricades were set up Thursday as the city and downtown merchants prepared to launch an outdoor dining pilot program on 10th Street between Central Avenue and B Street.

The program has been in the works for some time, but its launch coincides with renewed bans on indoor restaurant dining in response to the recent spike in COVID-19 transmission in San Joaquin County.

The Tracy City Center Association organized the effort to open the westbound lane to expanded restaurant seating with help from the city. Executive director Dino Margaros said the participating restaurants could start seating diners in the newly enclosed area as soon as Friday.

For now, the program has no end date. The eastbound lane and parking spaces on the south side of 10th Street will remain available for people driving downtown.

“For months our local businesses have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Robert Rickman said in a city statement about the project. “This program is another example of how our city is supporting the Tracy business community, and I encourage our residents to show their support by dining and shopping local.”

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