New Yorkers will have the option of dining outdoors 365 days a year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today during an interview with WNYC.
The last day of outdoor dining was slated for October 31, but the mayor plans to make al fresco dining a permanent fixture. There’s never been a better time for dining outside with initiatives like the Open Streets program, which will continue and allows restaurants to take over designated city blocks without having to worry about oncoming traffic.
“We depend on this industry so much in this city. It’s part of who we are,” said de Blasio on the Brian Lehrer Show. “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.”
Outdoor dining has been a lifeline for New York City restaurants struggling to stay afloat since the current crisis crippled the hospitality industry across the five boroughs. After months of staying inside, diners have beelined to some of the most in-demand outdoor dining setups in the city while other businesses have created stunning outdoor dining spaces to entice guests. Still, it’s a struggle as numerous restaurants have permanently closed in the past six months and there’s been pressure on the government to make sidewalk and street seating legal for the long haul.
“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, in a statement. “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.”
The announcement comes on the heels of indoor dining returning next week on September 30th. If restaurants set up enclosed spaces outdoors, they are required to abide by the initial 25% capacity rule that applies to indoor dining.
“I believe this is going to make it a lot easier for restaurants to survive,” de Blasio says.
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