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NYC Outdoor Dining Could Become A Permanent Fixture With This New Legislation

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City Council will conduct a hearing on the proposed bill next week

A view of the entrance sign at 46th Street which has been temporarily converted to “Restaurant Row” for outdoor dining during the fourth phase of the coronavirus pandemic reopening on September 06, 2020 in New York, New York. Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Erika Adams is the editor of Eater Boston.

Several NYC Council members have introduced new legislation that would make outdoor dining a permanent fixture in the city.

The new bill, sponsored by Council members Antonio Reynoso, Keith Powers, Mark Levine, and others, would repeal the law allowing temporary outdoor dining that was enacted earlier this summer and expires on December 31. In its place, the proposed legislation would make it legal for restaurants to conduct outdoor dining throughout the winter and beyond.

The bill specifies that NYC’s Department of Transportation would have to maintain a self-certification process for restaurants that want to utilize roadway in front of their businesses for outdoor dining. The bill also stipulates that outdoor propane heaters — which NYC restaurants currently can’t use— would be legalized to facilitate outdoor dining in the winter.

The introduction of the bill follows a growing number of voices calling on the city to make outdoor dining permanent. Last week, a group of Manhattan politicians including Council member Levine sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio pushing for the permanent implementation of outdoor dining across the city.

NYC’s outdoor dining program is currently set to end on October 31. In August, de Blasio committed to bringing back outdoor dining next year tentatively starting on June 1. At a press conference today, de Blasio said a decision will be coming soon on whether or not the program will be extended into the winter.

“The last piece to fill in is the continuance of outdoor dining,” de Blasio said at the press conference. “We will have that announcement very soon.” The mayor has previously voiced his support of making outdoor dining permanent in the city.

While indoor dining in the city is set to resume starting on September 30 at 25 percent capacity, many restaurateurs have said that extending outdoor dining will still be crucial to the businesses’ survival through the winter. Over 10,300 restaurants are currently certified for outdoor dining in NYC.

City Council will hold a hearing on the proposed bill to make outdoor dining permanent on September 30 at 10 a.m.