SUDBURY -- It's still weeks away from happening, but Greater Sudbury is preparing to help storefront retailers when the province gives them the greenlight to reopen.

In a news release Wednesday, the city said it will waive permit fees for small businesses when they open storefront retail operations, which will help the restaurant and hospitality industry open sidewalk patios and cafes, once permitted to do so.

"The city will (also) waive permit fees associated with use of storefronts for sidewalk sales and related uses," the release said.

Applications and inspections by the municipality will be streamlined to ensure local businesses can quickly set up shop once the province gives the green light.

"This is an opportunity to give our restaurants, retailers and other local businesses a small boost during what has been a very difficult time," Mayor Brian Bigger is quoted as saying in a news release.

"But we also need to make sure we do this safely and smartly. I am really looking forward to seeing this succeed and I know just about everyone is also looking forward to getting out, pulling up a chair or doing some shopping as we slowly and carefully work our way back toward normal living."

The first stage of Ontario’s plan to restart the economy permits the reopening of retail stores located outside of shopping malls with a separate street-front entrance. Restaurants and bars remain closed for dining and refreshments at this time; however, restaurants are open for takeout.

"The city is working closely with Public Health Sudbury & Districts to prepare appropriate guidelines and requirements that businesses must follow as part of their plans for expansion to the outdoors," the release said.

"Details to support businesses in the creation of outdoor spaces will be available in conjunction with provincial announcements."

For COVID-19 updates and information related to city services, visit the city's website. For the most up-to-date local information on COVID-19, visit the Public Health Sudbury & Districts website.