Outdoor dining returns on Monday, March 22

The outdoor dining set-up outside of the Banshee on Dorchester Avenue as seen last summer.

The start of Boston's outdoor dining program has been moved up from April 1 to March 22 due to the forecast for seasonable weather, Mayor Marty Walsh announced Friday.

The program that allows al fresco seating areas on city sidewalks and parking spaces also includes fast-tracked permitting and other assistance. City Hall said the program will run until December.

"Outdoor dining was one of the bright spots last summer and fall, and we’ve seen the benefits it has had on our neighborhoods: supporting local businesses, a safe and enjoyable experience for restaurant patrons, and an added resource for Boston’s small businesses during this challenging time," Walsh said. "I'm thrilled we are able to start this program even earlier, and I look forward to businesses and residents taking advantage of it."

The city will soon launch, B-Local, to help people find Black- or women-owned local businesses. App users will be able to earn "Boston Points" that they can redeem like cash at participating businesses.

City Hall will reimburse businesses for Boston Points that are redeemed.