BARRIE -- The city of Barrie is finding ways to help its over 400 restaurants once they are able to reopen by expanding outdoor patios.

"We're looking at helping to convert parking spaces to patios across the city," tweeted Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman.

The city's restaurants employ over 10-thousand people, and while some have been able to offer take-out and delivery, many have been forced to close.

The mayor says when they reopen, the city wants to increase the successful downtown patio program.

"What we are looking at doing is expanding that across the city in neighbourhood strip plazas, in our larger shopping centres."

Lehman says the city wants to utilize the parking spaces in front of restaurants as outdoor seating to allow for more physical distancing.

The province hasn't officially given the green light for restaurants to open, but the city wants to work with restaurant owners in the coming weeks to figure out a plan for when they do open their doors.