Outdoor dining in NYC will be extended through October

July 17, 2020

Open streets dining outside the Beatrice Inn; Photo (cropped) by Eden, Janine and Jim on Flickr

Since NYC entered phase 2 of reopening on June 22, more than 8,600 restaurants have begun participating in the Open Restaurants program, which allows restaurants to set up seating on sidewalks, curb cuts, in adjacent parking spots, and on certain designated open streets. Indoor dining in the city, however, has been postponed indefinitely. So to keep outdoor dining expanding and thriving, Mayor de Blasio announced today that he’s extending the program through October 31.

“Open Restaurants has given New Yorkers more than just a meal away from home – it has given our city a sign that better times are ahead,” said Mayor de Blasio. “I’m proud to give small businesses another two months to get back on their feet.”

The mayor also announced today that, as of this weekend, the city is adding 26 new locations for the weekend open streets dining program. This brings the total to 47 locations that can set up in the open streets from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday nights and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays.

As part of the state’s plan for phase three, the rest of the state has been able to begin indoor dining with a capacity of no more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy, tables spaced six feet apart, and other social-distancing and health regulations. Ahead of NYC entering phase three on Monday, June 6, however, Governor Cuomo made the decision to postpone indoor dining, citing a lack of compliance with social distancing, a lack of local government enforcement, and the alarming rates of transmission taking place across the country.

In his press conference yesterday, Governor Cuomo placed additional restrictions on New York City as it prepares to enter phase four this Monday. Indoor dining will still not be permitted, and indoor cultural institutions will also not be able to reopen. He also cracked down on bars and restaurants violating social distancing and face-covering rules. The new “Three Strikes and You’re Closed” initiative says that any establishment that receives three violations will be immediately shut down. The governor also said that walk-up bar service is no longer permitted and that restaurants can only serve alcoholic drinks “to people who are ordering and eating food.” This is in response to certain areas like the East Village and the Hamptons where people are ordering drinks and standing on the sidewalk in groups.

An important piece of Mayor de Blasio’s press release today is the sentence that reads” “The City will continue to work with the restaurant industry to ensure there is clarity on the guidelines for roadway seating setups.” De Blasio and the Department of Transportation have been criticized for not providing restaurants with the appropriate specs for their outdoor setups when the Open Restaurants program began. Therefore, many establishments were hit with violations for their protective barriers not being at least 18 inches wide and not having reflective traffic markers. According to a NY1 investigation, restaurants have also received violations for tents (as opposed to umbrellas with weighted bases) and gaps in the barriers.

The mayor’s announcement about the October extension is reason to wonder if indoor dining won’t be a possibility for many months to come.


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