Outdoor dining now permanent and year-round in New York City

sbuFILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced 21 more locations for outdoor dining options as part of a city initiative in Manhattan, New York
The city is accepting applications for open streets and open streets dining locations.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

The city’s Open Restaurants Initiative, which allows for restaurants to serve customers on sidewalk and curb space, will be made permanent. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the extension of outdoor dining during an interview with WNYC host Brian Lehrer. Outdoor dining will also be permitted year-round. 

“I want us to go for the gold here,” de Blasio told Lehrer. ” I really want us to take this model and make it a part of the life of New York City for years and generations to come…I really think it’s going to help restaurants survive.”

Restaurants can now extend their seating past the front of adjacent storefronts if neighboring businesses agree to it, de Blasio added. Restaurants that want to better heat outdoor dining spaces by enclosing so may do so but must keep capacity at 25%. Conversely, restaurants or bars that want to host outdoor dining open in winter must keep spaces “more open” to allow for better airflow, de Blasio said. 

Outdoor dining, which started in response to the coronavirus pandemic, was set to end on Oct. 31. Last month, de Blasio said that the program would restart in June of next year amid repeated calls from restaurant owners and elected officials like Councilmember Keith Powers to turn the program into a permanent fixture. 

It’s unclear exactly how many businesses have closed in the six months since the pandemic reached New York City but some estimate that over 1,000 bars and restaurants have permanently closed since March. 

De Blasio claims that the initiative has saved over 100,000 jobs in the industry now that  10,355 bars and restaurants have been approved for outdoor dining permits, according to the NYC Open Restaurants tracker. 

The city’s Open Street program, which closes of street blocks to vehicular traffic, will also become permanent. 

The announcement comes a week before indoor dining is set to return to New York City at 25 % capacity and with other restrictions. Owners will be required to conduct temperature checks for all guests and at least one member of every party must leave information for contact and tracing purposes. All tables must be kept six-feet apart and guests must wear masks when not seated.