NEW YORK - New outdoor dining guidelines released last night, including a rule that prohibited customers from using the restroom, immediately sparked uproar and confusion among city diners and business owners.
Mayor DeBlasio announced in his morning press briefing that it was a mistake.
"So, to all New Yorkers who go to a restaurant, YES, you can use the bathroom," he reiterated.
The guidance, which was posted to the state liquor authority’s website, has since been changed to read: "Yes, restrooms may of course be used."
However, restaurant owners say that slip-up is just the tip of the iceberg.
"The new guideline we just got was about customers coming in with their mask. Picking up food is not allowed anymore," Sandra Stojak, who manages Copinette says.
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According to another layer of restrictions, patrons can only grab their to-go meals at the curb.
The new take-out regulations will only affect restaurants that have a liquor license but employees are feeling the impacts, too.
"I’m legally obligated to give a meal to my employees, which I love to do, but they cannot eat it inside the restaurant because the dining room is considered a public space," Bobby Briskin, owner of American Brass in Long Island City mentions.
The New York Hospitality Alliance raised questions about whether or not the guidance would be updated to reflect additional concerns, writing in part: "For example, it seems to indicate that vendors can no longer enter a restaurant to make deliveries. Third-party delivery workers can't use a restaurant's restroom or enter the premise to pick up an order."
Stoyak is making one desperate plea to city and state officials."Can’t they just consult the industry before making these rules? I think that’s gonna help a lot," she says.