"We know that restaurants define greatness in the city," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

By Alison Fox
June 18, 2020
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New York City, once an epicenter for COVID-19 in the United States, is expected to enter Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan on Monday, which would allow for restaurants to open for outdoor dining service.

"We know that restaurants define greatness in the city. We're going to make sure we save restaurants, that is the mission," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, according to NBC New York. "We want to make sure it's easy for restaurants to come back; that means using outdoor space in the beginning."

New York City entered Phase 1 on June 8, which allowed for curbside pickup from retailers and has seen declining cases and deaths related to COVID-19. Several other regions in the state have already entered Phase 2 and even Phase 3, which allows for some indoor restaurant dining to resume.

“You look at all the numbers, all the numbers are good… The same metrics we use in New York City are the same metrics we've used in every region across the state,” the state’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters during his news conference on Wednesday. “Employers have to be responsible, store owners have to be responsible, employees have to be responsible, local governments have to be responsible and do their job.”

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Earlier this month de Blasio released a plan to temporarily convert open spaces so restaurants have an area for outdoor dining, NBC New York reported. The plan calls for using parking spaces for curbside seating, setting up on open streets, and creating some sidewalk seating.

"It includes the single biggest piece of our economy," de Blasio said of restaurants and retail shops. "We're all in agreement this is the right thing to do. It's time to move forward, and if anything comes up in the data that's a concern we're going to talk about it publicly."

Earlier this month, Cuomo added outdoor dining to Phase 2, allowing restaurants to open with tables spaced six feet apart. Staff are required to wear masks and patrons have to wear a mask when not seated.

Overall, New York City has recorded more than 207,800 confirmed cases of the virus, according to the city’s Department of Health.

Andrew Rigie, the head of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told the New York Post restaurant owners were experiencing “uncertainty and even desperation.”

“Getting the outdoor dining requirements rolled out as soon as possible so they can plan is critically important, but these small business owners also need to know when they will be permitted to open so they can plan and start bringing some money into their businesses,” Rigie said.

Stores will also be allowed to open during the Phase 2 and services like hair salons can resume operations. Playgrounds will also open.