"New Yorkers deserve the chance to enjoy their meals outside next summer, and restaurants deserve the chance to continue building their businesses back," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

By Alison Fox
August 05, 2020
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As outdoor dining on sidewalks and streets has become a summer staple in New York City due to restrictions revolving around coronavirus, the open-air restaurant concept is cemented to make its return next summer.

The city’s Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to bringing back the Open Restaurants program next summer after it was introduced as a way to get the city’s restaurants up and running again while indoor dining remains prohibited. The program grants permits for restaurants to set up outdoor tables on sidewalks and on street curbs.

“It's time to start a new New York City tradition," de Blasio said in a statement on Monday. "New Yorkers deserve the chance to enjoy their meals outside next summer, and restaurants deserve the chance to continue building their businesses back. I'm proud to expand such a popular program, and I look forward to participating myself next year."

So far this year, more than 9,000 restaurants have signed up for the program, de Blasio said. In 2021, outdoor dining will officially start June 1 and run through Oct. 31. Under the program, restaurants are allowed to operate outdoors Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The concept began after the state’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo postponed the resuming of indoor dining. While the city is currently in Phase 4 of New York’s reopening plan, Cuomo has said the decision was made due to fear of increasing cases in other states and the “slipping” of social distancing measures and mask-wearing in the city. Indoor dining is typically allowed at 50 percent capacity during Phase 3.

"The Open Restaurants program has been incredibly successful in the midst of a crisis,” Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a joint statement with the group’s council Robert Bookman. “Continuing this outdoor dining program in 2021 is not only important for small businesses, jobs, and tax revenue, but it also makes NYC a more beautiful and livable city."

Restaurants are not the only indoor venues that remain shut down in New York City. Museums remain closed as well, but the city has continued to embrace being outdoors by highlighting dozens of free public art programs.