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City’s Open Restaurants Outdoor Dining Program Will Return Next Year

Curbside seating at Dawa’s in Sunnyside (Photo: Asha MacKay)

Aug. 3, 2020 By Allie Griffin

The city will bring back its open restaurants outdoor dining program next June — or even earlier, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today.

The program, which converts parts of city streets and sidewalks to dining areas, is set to expire on Oct. 31. De Blasio said the initiative will return next year, beginning June 1 or perhaps earlier in the spring.

“Expect to see that wonderful outdoor dining back next year,” he said during a morning press conference. “We may even extend it further, earlier in the spring.”

Under the initiative, restaurant owners can set up tables and seating for customers along sidewalks and curbside–where cars typically park. They can also create dining areas on select streets that close to traffic on weekends– as part of the “Open Streets: Restaurants” program.

Queens streets that close to traffic on weekends for outdoor dining (DOT)

The outdoor dining options have helped the more than 9,000 restaurants enrolled in the program keep afloat during the pandemic and gave a projected 80,000 New Yorkers their jobs back since June, de Blasio said.

“A lot of restaurants have been able to survive because of this initiative,” he said. “And a lot of people have been able to get their jobs back.”

The full street closures where roadways are turned into outdoor dining plazas on weekends, as well as curbside dining, will return next summer.

“It’s time to start a new New York City tradition,” de Blasio said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve the chance to enjoy their meals outside next summer, and restaurants deserve the chance to continue building their businesses back.”

However it isn’t immediately clear if the expedited permit process for sidewalk and curbside dining — where restaurant owners can self-certify online at no cost — will also make a comeback in 2021.

Indoor dining, meanwhile, has been shuttered indefinitely. It was slated to reopen on July 6, but the city postponed it with no word on when it will happen.

Outdoor dining in Chinatown (DOT via Twitter)

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