NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New rules for restaurants around New York City would make expanded outdoor dining areas permanent, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday.
The mayor said restaurants will be allowed to permanently expand into parking areas in front of their restaurants and adjacent storefronts.READ MORE: Gov. Hochul: No Known Cases Of New COVID Variant 'Omicron' In New York
The other businesses will have to agree to it, however, de Blasio said.
“I want us to go for the gold here. I want us to really take this model and make it part of the life of New York City for years and generations to come,” de Blasio said.
He says outdoor dining is an experiment that’s worked for everyone.
“We already have well over 10,000 restaurants participating, almost 100,000 jobs have been saved,” de Blasio said.
The city’s Open Restaurants program has been a lifeline for businesses struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic almost wiped out Susannah Koteen’s business. She’s the owner of Lido, an Italian restaurant in Harlem.
“We were shut down for two months due to the virus,” she told CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.
For her, outdoor dining gave her a chance at survival.
“I think for a lot of us, it’s the difference between being able to keep our doors open and not,” Koteen said.
Inside, the chairs and tables are still tucked away with plenty of protective equipment at the ready for the return of indoor dining.
For now, however, people are enjoying the outdoors.READ MORE: Stephen Sondheim, Legend Of The Broadway Musical, Dead At 91
“We love that it’s giving restaurants another opportunity to thrive, which, of course, is what makes New York great,” said a diner named Elizabeth, who was eating with her three kids.
“Everyone can still eat out but without risking their lives,” one child said.
“I feel like it’s really nice to get back to normal, and, like, I also think it’s really good for restaurants,” another child said.
“I really like it because we get to sit outside and eat,” another child said.
The only concern moving forward is the cold weather.
“I don’t like winter, so I would not want to sit outside in winter. I’m not a big fan of that,” Harlem resident Denise Nguyen said.
To deal with that, restaurants will be allowed to use electrical heaters on sidewalks and streets, as well as propane and natural gas heaters on sidewalks.
They’ll also be allowed to use partially or fully enclosed tents. If they do, the spaces would be held to indoor dining restrictions, which means capacity is capped at 25%.
Official guidance is expected to come out later in September.
There’s also guidance being set up for what happens when it snows.
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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)