Sidewalk Dining to Become Permanent in NYC
New York City will now have outdoor sidewalk dining year-round.
According to Bloomberg, New York City will be continuing the "Open Restaurants" program. This program allows outdoor dining for restaurants on sidewalks. This program began in June as restaurants in New York City were permitted to open for outdoor dining only under New York Forward, which was the state's reopening plan. The program was set to expire on October 31, 2020, but now it has been extended and will be available year-round.
Bloomberg reports that restaurants will still be able to expand seating to adjacent properties with consent. Restaurants will also be able to use heaters using propane or natural gas on sidewalks with a permit. Electric heaters may be used on sidewalks and roads.
According to Bloomberg, over 10,000 restaurants have participated in the program. Indoor dining is set to begin in New York City on Wednesday, September 30, at 25% capacity. Indoor dining has been allowed in the Hudson Valley since July. Outdoor dining was available on June 9, 2020. Restaurants still must have tables six feet apart and cannot operate at full capacity. All staff must wear masks at all times and customers must wear masks when not seated.
Regions in the Hudson Valley, like Westchester County, have closed off some streets for restaurants to have outdoor dining. It is unclear if this will continue year-round. For restaurants that do not have patio areas, using sidewalks and streets has been a great benefit. As the winter months approach, it could create problems with snow on sidewalks and customers not wanting to dine outside.