Part of New York’s Recovery Agenda, to keep the city safe and healthy, the Open Restaurants program established in June of this year was extended year-round, to be made permanent. In fact, Mayor de Blasio has allowed restaurants to use heating and enclosures, and expand seating to adjacent properties with neighbors’ consent. This extension will also apply to Open Streets: Restaurants, “which currently offers restaurants expanded space on 85 car-free streets citywide on certain days”.
With more than 10,300 establishments enrolled, and 90,000 jobs saved, The Open Restaurants program is part of New York City’s long-term recovery, to help bring back the city’s economy. On that note, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that “Open Restaurants was a big, bold experiment in supporting a vital industry and reimagine our public space. And it worked […] as we begin a long-term recovery, we’re proud to extend and expand this effort to keep New York City the most vibrant city in the world. It’s time for a new tradition”. In collaboration with the City Council, regulatory changes will be made to make the program permanent. Read on to discover the newest additions to the guidelines.
The program has helped save tens of thousands of jobs and has been an essential lifeline to an industry that has faced enormous hardships during this pandemic. And as we extend outdoor dining into the winter months we will work closely with restaurants to ensure the correct heating systems are put in place to keep customers and themselves safe. -- Laura Anglin, Deputy Mayor for Operations
The City will allow restaurants to expand seating to the frontage of adjacent properties, as long as the adjacent property owners formally agree to the use of the space for a specified period of time and commit not to charge a fee for its use. The City will work with the State Liquor Authority on any requirements associated with extending alcohol service to the expanded seating in front of adjacent properties. In early October, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) will issue a template agreement and provide instructions on how to file the agreements. Adjacent properties may not be used prior to the release of official instructions and formal agreements.
As cooler weather arrives, the City will allow restaurants to incorporate heating elements into their outdoor dining setups. Electrical heaters will be allowed on both sidewalks and roadways. Propane and natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only; they will remain prohibited in roadway seating. Propane will require a permit from FDNY and compliance with FDNY regulations for outdoor use, handling, and secure outdoor tank storage overnight. Official guidance on what will be considered approved installation and use of heating elements will be released before the end of September and restaurants are prohibited from installing heating elements until guidelines are released and followed.
Restaurants will also be permitted to use tent enclosures to keep diners warm. In partial tent enclosures, at least 50% of the tent’s sidewall surface area must remain open and electrical heaters are allowed. In full tent enclosures, the tent’s side walls may be closed but occupancy limitations will be capped at 25% of capacity, and indoor dining guidelines must be followed; electrical heaters will also be allowed. Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, will be allowed for individual parties and must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation.
As the program’s duration will now continue through the winter months, and winter weather creates the potential for inclement weather to impact road conditions, the City will engage the restaurant industry and other stakeholders to develop additional safety features to further strengthen roadway barriers. To ensure timely implementation, the City will require restaurant owners to comply with new safety features by November 15, 2020. In addition, significant snow events may necessitate the temporary removal of some barriers from the roadway.
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