NYC makes outdoor dining permanent, extends Open Streets initiatives

Restaurants can offer outdoor dining year-round, announced Mayor Bill de Blasio Friday, in an effort to help struggling eateries during the coronavirus pandemic.

The program was expected to expire Oct. 31. Restaurants can now keep sidewalk and curbside dining open indefinitely. More than 10,000 restaurants are taking part in the program. With cooler weather coming, the city will allow electrical heaters on sidewalks and streets as well as propane and natural gas heaters on sidewalks.

Restaurants also will be able to use partially or fully enclosed tents.

Speaking during a radio interview, de Blasio also announced that the city's Open Streets program would become permanent. Dozens of city blocks have been shut since the summer to vehicular traffic to allow New Yorkers more open space while socially distancing.

“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,” de Blasio said on WNYC public radio.

Indoor dining is expected to resume in NYC next week at 25 percent capacity. All customers will undergo temperature checks at the door and one member of each party will have to provide information for contact tracing if needed.

The announcements were welcomed news for the owners of eateries across the city.

"“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, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. "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. "

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