Today the City Council held its hearing on legislation advocated for by the NYC Hospitality Alliance which would approve the use of outdoor spaces for eating and drinking establishments. Generating revenue from outdoor dining will help thousands of restaurants and bars that will be mandated to reopen with limited indoor occupancy and social distancing requirements as a result of COVID-19.
The de Blasio Administration testified in support of outdoor dining spaces at the hearing once the City enters Phase 2, which could be as early as June 22nd. The Administration's plan differs slightly from the City Council's, but it similarly allows restaurants to use sidewalks, parking spaces and other areas in front of their establishments for outdoors dine-in service; provided that seating is accessible, bus stops or fire hydrants are not blocked, and seating is away from intersections.
"We applaud the Mayor and the City Council for reimagining how we will use our public spaces to allow restaurants and bars to serve patrons in these areas," said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. "The survival of the hospitality industry this summer depends on swift approvals and minimal red tape to open outdoors from the City and State, and we look forward to working with lawmakers and agencies to ensure this gets done as quickly and efficiently as possible."
"The Council is glad the Administration heard our calls to allow restaurants to create space for outdoor dining. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Council and restaurant owners to make this happen as soon as and as successfully as possible. Time is of the essence for restaurants feeling the economic pain caused by this awful pandemic. We will keep thinking creatively to help our restaurants and small businesses get back on their feet quickly," said Speaker Corey Johnson. "The past three months have been the most difficult period our City has faced in many of our lifetimes, and we much act quickly to deliver justice, stabilize the health of our residents, and rebuild our economy. We must immediately help our small businesses, including the thousands of restaurants that reflect the diversity that make our city special, enliven our streets, share our unique cultures, serve as community gathering spaces, and provide economic opportunity to workers and owners. Our restaurants have suffered greatly during this pandemic and when we reopen, they'll need more space to maintain social distancing. We must reimagine our streets so that restaurants can reopen safely and thrive. We have to trust out businesses to do the right thing. I am excited to see what they come up with when we give them the space to be creative," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.
This legislation will go a long way to bringing us back to a place where we can sit together (safely) around a table. Stay tuned for updates.