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New NYC bill would allow select streets be used for outdoor dining

The measure is intended to allow restaurants to serve customers safely in the open-air.

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As Time Out New York reported a few weeks ago, New Yorkers will likely have a lot more outdoor dining options as more and more restaurants and bars prepare to welcome back guess. Recently, the city council passed a number of measures to aid restaurants experiencing the brunt of financial chaos during the current shutdown. One of those adjustments included waiving sidewalk consent fees because currently, the city functions like a landlord by charging restaurants for setting up tables on public sidewalks. Now, Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Antonio Reynoso have introduced new legislation to make that dream closer to a reality. The bill would require Mayor de Blasio's administration and the Department of Transportation to identify streets and plazas where restaurants and bars could expand their footprint—a boon for businesses, as many expect limits to be placed on the number of guests they can allow indoors once they can fully reopen.  

"Normally, the process to have a sidewalk cafe is pretty complicated, and for smaller restaurants, it's often too expensive. This bill will bring equity to the issue by making the process more streamlined and straightforward," Johnson tweeted earlier today. There's a multi-pronged approach: identify the appropriate areas for increased outdoor dining, receive hygiene guidelines for servicing customers in the open air and have restaurants and bars that serve food submit an application. According to Johnson, the program would expire on 10/31/2020 or "whenever social distancing requirements are lifted." 

"Our restaurants need this. I'm confident that we can creatively use our street space to get them back up and running," he concluded. 

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