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Outdoor Dining Will Return Next Year, Mayor Says

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Outdoor dining will tentatively start on June 1 next year

An outdoor dining area is seen as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on July 27, 2020 in New York City. 
A blocked-off street for outdoor dining in NYC
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

NYC’s widespread outdoor dining program will return next year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference on Monday. The popular program will tentatively start on June 1 next year, although de Blasio said that the start date could potentially be pushed to earlier in the spring of 2021.

Since the city first allowed outdoor dining on sidewalks and in parking spaces earlier this year, 9,700 restaurants in the city have applied and been approved for outdoor dining permits, according to NYC’s Department of Transportation. The mayor said during the press conference that the program has supported approximately 80,000 jobs within the industry.

The mayor called the program a “tremendous success,” and said that the announcement today was made in advance so that restaurateurs and bar owners could depend on “additional revenue going forward” from the outdoor dining program.

Thousands of NYC’s restaurants and bars have been taking advantage of program, although many say that sales from outdoor dining alone are not enough to cover long-term operating costs. Last week, an NYC council member spearheaded a small business recovery plan that included calling on local government to institute a permanent outdoor dining program in the city.

The State Liquor Authority has also been active in the city to enforce social-distancing requirements with outdoor dining. Over 100 restaurants and bars have received citations from the State Liquor Authority due to social-distancing violations, and dozens of other establishments have had their liquor licenses temporarily suspended due to “egregious” violations of the social-distancing regulations.

This year’s outdoor dining program is currently scheduled to end on October 31, although that deadline may be extended depending on the weather. “We’re going to look at whether we can go further this year,” de Blasio said. “It’s still an open question.”

The mayor did not provide an update on the status of indoor dining in the city, which was postponed indefinitely earlier this year as other areas of the country saw a rise in COVID-19 cases, in part due to indoor dining activities.