Following lawsuit, NYC to resume indoor dining with heavy restrictions

New York City restaurants will now be able to serve customers outside for good.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that the city’s Open Restaurants Program, which was created in June as a temporary solution to help restaurants survive the coronavirus restrictions, will be made “permanent and year-round.”

“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,” de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer on Friday. “This has been, I think, an extraordinarily positive experiment and it’s worked.”

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The program allows restaurants to seat diners outdoors on sidewalks or curb lanes bordering their businesses, according to the Open Restaurants website.

It also allows restaurants to seat customers on streets that are closed to traffic, in coordination with New York City’s already existing Open Streets program.

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According to the mayor’s office, there are 85 New York City streets that are closed to cars on specific days for restaurants to seat diners.

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Overall, the Open Restaurants Program has enrolled 10,300 businesses and saved about 90,000 jobs since it started this summer, a press release said.

“Open Restaurants was a big, bold experiment in supporting a vital industry and reimagining our public space,” de Blasio said in a statement. “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.”

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According to the release, restaurants will be able to use heaters in their outdoor spaces, and “partial tent enclosures." However, if they’re fully enclosed, they will have to abide by the 25% capacity rule for indoor dining, which goes into effect Sept. 30.

“The bottom line here is that we want restaurants to do well,” de Blasio told Lehrer on Friday.

“We want to see them thrive in the future and I think this is going to help a lot,” he added later.

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