New York’s dining al fresco program that was launched in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown will become a permanent part of New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday.
The decision came amid mounting pressure from the City Council and the city’s struggling restaurants and bars for City Hall to release rules for outdoor dining in the winter with indoor dining likely to remain significantly limited for the foreseeable future.
“In the midst of this crisis, some really good and powerful things happened. And that was particularly true in the restaurant industry,” Hizzoner told WNYC host Brian Lehrer.
“We will make the Open Restaurants initiative permanent and year-round,” he added. “I want us to really take this model and make it part of the life of New York City for years and generations to come. This has been, I think, an extraordinarily positive experiment.”
The Open Restaurant program allows bars and restaurants, which have been devastated by the closures, to claim portions of the sidewalk and curb parking outside of their establishments to set up tables and chairs for drink and food service.
The program was launched as the coronavirus forced a months-long closure of indoor dining to slow the spread of COVID-19 during the initial outbreak in the spring at left more than 23,000 New Yorkers dead.
“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,” said Andrew Rigie, the head of the Hospitality Alliance, which represents many city restaurants and bars.
“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,” he added.
Copies of the rules and regulations for wintertime outdoor dining were not immediately available.
Indoor dining is set to make a limited return at just 25 percent capacity at the end of the month.
New York Post
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