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Enclosed Outdoor Dining Setups Could Be Cause for Concern, NYC Health Experts Say

Plus, Bronx’s Little Italy is thriving — and more intel

A view of a white tent with tables inside it and the tent is covered on three sides
Enclosed outdoor dining structures are raising concerns for some health experts
choongky/shutterstock

The rise of enclosed outdoor dining in a time of rising coronavirus cases is worrying health experts

Across the city, enclosed structures are going up in front of restaurants, along sidewalks, or on streets that have been closed for outdoor dining. With colder weather approaching, and the fact that there’s uncertainty on when indoor dining will resume at half capacity, many restauranteurs feel they have no choice but to create these warmer setups.

But with the massive spike in COVID-19 cases across the country in recent weeks, and the fact that New York recently recorded a two percent positivity rate after months of staying below that mark, health experts are worried about how enclosed outdoor dining structures may exacerbate the situation, the New York Times reports.

Outdoor structures that are enclosed on more than two sides need to abide by the same indoor dining regulations, according to state coronavirus safety guidelines, but given the volume of restaurants in the city, some health experts fear it will be hard to monitor these outdoor setups . Many other restaurants are providing blankets and setting up propane heaters outside to avoid enclosed structures, but it remains to be seen how many diners will continue to eat outdoors in frigid weather. With no word yet on when more federal aid will arrive for restaurants — or when the city will get more indoor dining — many restaurateurs say they’re doing the best they can to survive the winter months.

In other news

— Restaurants across the city are continuing to struggle due to the business downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s a glimmer of good news out of the Bronx this week. The neighborhood’s Little Italy is thriving with six new restaurant openings and expansions in recent weeks along the 12-block stretch on Arthur Avenue.

— Beloved Jewish deli Sable’s Smoked Fish is reopening this Wednesday at 1330 Third Avenue, near East 76th Street, according to a spokesperson for the establishment. The deli was forced to close its original Second Avenue location in July as the building it was housed in was sold to make way for a residential development.

— Prix Fixe for Youth is a new digital zine featuring recipes and stories from 26 Asian-American chefs and restaurateurs. The zine launches Wednesday, and has been created by With Warm Welcome, the group working to amplify Asian-American voices in the restaurant industry through its podcast and online store selling restaurant prints.

— Local nonprofit Welcome to Chinatown is hosting an exhibit this weekend, November 13 to November 15, at Hotel 50 Bowery. Stories of Chinatown: Behind the Counter highlights the stories of small businesses in the neighborhood and what they need to survive the current crisis.

— Fashionable Noho French-Vietnamese restaurant Indochine reopens tomorrow for the first time since the pandemic-related shutdown in March.

— As part of a two-night event starting tonight, NYC cocktail legends Death & Co. and 67 Orange Street are swapping bartenders and menus, according to a spokesperson for both establishments. Part of the proceeds will go to small business nonprofit, Harlem Park to Park.

— East Village establishment Feast — which closed after seven years in neighborhoods — is being replaced by a new Tex-Mex restaurant called Yellow Rose.

— Cooking inspiration for the week ahead:

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