NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is on track for Phase 2 reopening next week, the mayor said Thursday.
“Get on your mark, get set, because here we go on Monday,” Mayor Bill de Blasio declared.READ MORE: Driver Killed, Passenger Hospitalized After Vehicle Overturns In Rockland County
The mayor said restaurants and bars that serve food can start outdoor dining Monday.
All establishments must follow social distancing rules, and employees and customers have to wear face coverings when they are within six feet of people.
“This is the greatest restaurant city in the world. I will challenge Paris, I will challenge Bangkok, I’ll challenge Tokyo, I’ll challenge anywhere. We are the greatest restaurant city in the world,” the mayor said. “We have to save this industry. It is quintessential to New York City. It’s the heart and soul of who we are. Not just because it’s a big part of our economy, not just because we honor the entrepreneurship of everyone involved, not just because it’s so many jobs — it’s part of our identity, too.
“Look across the communities of this city, the neighborhoods. So many of the restaurants reflect our culture, our humanity, our creativity,” he added. “This is the identity of New York City.”
De Blasio said tables can be set up in existing patios or backyards, on sidewalks or in curb lanes. The sidewalks will be available through October, and curb lanes will be open through Labor Day.
Starting in July, there will be additional seating in the city’s open streets. Business improvement districts can also work with restaurants to offer tables in pedestrian plazas.
De Blasio said these steps are expected to help save 5,000 restaurants and 45,000 jobs.
Owners can sign up online for outdoor dining starting Friday. The mayor stressed the application would be simple and streamlined.
WEB EXTRA: Click here for more information and to apply
At Enzo’s Italian restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, workers started putting out sidewalk tables in preparation for the big day.READ MORE: Police Searching For Missing Bronx Teenager Amanda Perez
Owner Maria DiRende told CBS2’s Marcia Kramer she couldn’t be happier.
“That’s what we’ve been waiting for. We’ve been looking forward to opening up and serving our customers and seeing people coming back,” DiRende said.
As far as the locals are concerned, tables on the sidewalks and out on the street are just one step. They told Kramer they have a far grander vision of what should happen in the bustling neighborhood.
“Maybe street closure in the evenings going forward, building on this idea of using sidewalks and curbs and turning it into a piazza,” said Peter Madonia of the Arthur Avenue Business Improvement District.
Madonia, who also owns Madonia Brothers Bakery, said he has been working on a plan to create an open streets restaurant area.
Mayor de Blasio said he wants to meet with community groups to figure out ways to do that. Arthur Avenue wants to be among the first.
On the wall at Ann and Tony’s Restaurant, which is owned by the Napolitano family, is a blackboard from the last day it was open before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. On Monday, the eatery plans to offer the same thing.
“It’s great. I get back into business, make some money again. Get the family working again back together,” Anthony Napolitano said.
“I miss serving customers, seeing happy faces, people enjoying food, families coming together,” Ralph Napolitano added.
One question is whether restaurants will charge a COVID surcharge. Mayor de Blasio told Kramer he doesn’t think that will be necessary, because the city is going to give restaurants free personal protection equipment (PPE).
Phase 2 reopening also includes in-store retail, hair salons and barbershops, offices, real estate, vehicle sales, rentals and leases, commercial building management and retail rental, repair and cleaning.
The city estimates another 150,000-300,000 residents will be heading back to work.
Businesses with questions about reopening should contact the Department of Small Business Services by visiting nyc.gov/business or calling 8884-SBS-4NYC.MORE NEWS: De Blasio Says City Prepared For School Staffing Shortages As COVID Vaccine Deadline Approaches
The SBS plans to distribute 2 million face coverings for employees and has an online marketplace to find PPE and other supplies.