EDMONTON -- The city is simplifying the process for patio expansion as a way to help local restaurants during phase one of reopening.

Starting May 19, restaurants will be able to apply for an expansion permit online — a simplified one-page process that will be free of charge.

The city will also introduce zoning exemptions that will be in place until the end of 2020, which will allow restaurants to build a patio on a sidewalk, or in a parking lot.

The hope is that these changes will help restaurants meet consumer demand for dining out, while still operating at 50 per cent capacity.

"This will support businesses in easing the maximum capacity in safe ways and will add to the vibrancy of our city in the summer. The city will work with the businesses to figure out what best works for their specific area," said City Manager Adam Laughlin.

The details are still being worked out according to city officials.

Administration will look at different options to allow for larger patios, whether that be on or off site.

The motion still needs to adhere to the public engagement process, so it won't be passed by council until June 9; however, it will be retroactive for any restaurants applying as of May 19.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Joey Slattery