NYC’s first snowstorm-related outdoor dining pause is here. The city’s sanitation department issued its first snow alert of the year yesterday, which means starting Wednesday, at 2 p.m., restaurants will have to suspend their outdoor dining setups along roadways.
The city is anticipating more than 8 inches of snow starting Wednesday afternoon and stretching into Thursday, prompting the sanitation department to issue the stronger of the two snow-related outdoor dining measures. Restaurants will be able to resume roadside dining on Thursday evening at the earliest, according to DSNY, or on Friday depending on the snow accumulation. The city will send out a second update indicating when outdoor dining can resume.
In a snow alert situation, restaurants are required to secure their furniture, remove electric heaters from the road, and remove overhead coverings, if possible. Restaurants don’t, however, need to remove any structures or barriers this time around. In regards to snow clearance, DSNY says snow should not be pushed out into the street, but can be moved up to the curb line or up against a building, ensuring that there’s enough space for pedestrians to pass on the sidewalk.
The snow alert only pertains to roadside seating, though, which means restaurants that have sidewalk seating can keep those setups going on Wednesday and Thursday, in accordance with the city’s Open Restaurants program, and as long as pedestrians have a four-foot-wide clearance to walk on the sidewalk.
With indoor dining now banned due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in New York, restaurants can only rely on a mix of takeout, delivery, and outdoor service. Dining outside is becoming increasingly difficult due to the combination of the cold weather, and the city’s myriad and ever-changing guidelines, many restaurant owners say, and this snow storm will be the latest disruption in service in an already devastating year for the restaurant industry.