De Blasio: New York City to permit outdoor dining year-round

Coronavirus NYC outdoor dining
Photo credit Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
By WCBS Newsradio 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday announced that outdoor dining in New York City will continue year-round. 

As restaurants across the five boroughs continue to struggle in their recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the city is looking to extend the Open Restaurants program through the winter months.

“Open Restaurants was a big, bold experiment in supporting a vital industry and reimaging our public space. And it worked,” said Mayor de Blasio. “As we begin a long-term recovery, we’re proud to extend and expand this effort to keep New York City the most vibrant city in the world. It’s time for a new tradition.”

More than 10,300 restaurants in the five boroughs currently participate in the Open Restaurants program. The extension also applies to Open Streets: Restaurants, which offers restaurants expanded space on 85 car-free streets citywide on certain days.

“Because this popular program has developed into one of the few bright spots in the pandemic, we are excited that Open Restaurants, a creative new vision of public space, will be made permanent and year-round,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.  “As we move into the colder months, we will join our sister agencies and the City Council to come up with clear guidance – working closely with the restaurant industry, continuing to make sure that we are of course driven by safety first.”

Restaurants will need to adhere to strict guidelines throughout the winter months in order to assure the safety and health of all customers and staff.

Eateries must provide adequate heating in the winter months and the city will allow electrical heaters to be set up on the sidewalks and roadways. Propane and natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only and will require permits from the FDNY.

Restaurants will be permitted to use tent enclosures but partial tent enclosures must leave at least 50% of the side wall open. 

In full tent enclosures, the tent’s side walls may be closed but occupancy limitations will be capped at 25% of capacity, and indoor dining guidelines must be followed.

Mayor de Blasio said the City council will work to make the regulator y changed necessary to make the Open Restaurants program permanent. 

“Outdoor dining has been one of the major successes of the past few months, and the Council is proud to have led the charge to make this common-sense measure permanent. We are grateful Mayor de Blasio heard our calls and is taking action on this important issue. Lots of cities throughout the world have permanent outdoor dining, and it is time to bring it to New York City. Our restaurants need a lot of help and the Council will continue doing all we can to support them,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

The year-round program comes after the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey also announced outdoor dining would continue into the winter months to help restaurants recover.

At the time of that announcement, Andrew Riggie, with the NYC Hospitality Alliance called for de Blasio to do the same.

On Friday, he praised the decision, saying it would greatly help restaurants make up lost revenue during the pandemic,

“Outdoor dining has transformed New York City’s streetscape for the better and has been a critical lifeline for thousands of small businesses and jobs throughout the five boroughs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s announcement to make outdoor dining permanent, to allow the use of heat lamps to keep customers warm outside during the cooler months, and to allow restaurants to utilize adjacent space where feasible so they can accommodate more guests and generate much needed revenue is a major step to rebuilding a stronger, more resilient and livable city. We thank and look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio’s administration and the City Council on rolling out this incredibly important expansion of the popular Open Restaurants program,” he said in a statement. 

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