With a major snowstorm expected to hit the city tomorrow, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has declared a "Snow Alert" and suspended outdoor dining on city streets starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

While restaurants do have to stop serving customers seated in the street at that time, the city says it is not asking that restaurants "remove any barriers or structures for roadway dining." Restaurateurs with street dining will be required to remove or secure any tables and chairs in the roadway, put away all electrical heaters, and "if possible, restaurants should remove any overhead coverings, or regularly remove the snow from overhead coverings until the snow alert ends."

The DSNY estimates that the outdoor street dining closure could last until Thursday night, or possibly even into Friday. The city will notify restaurants when they can reopen for outdoor dining.

Alternate Side Parking regulations will also be suspended on Wednesday and Thursday.

The DSNY say that total accumulations of eight or more inches are possible, though the National Weather Service predicted on Tuesday morning that the city will get around 13 inches over the course of Wednesday and Thursday. The city has only gotten a foot of snow or more in December in five of the last 60 years; the last time was in 2010, when the city got over 20 inches of snow.

The DSNY will use its “brine trucks” to apply liquid salt to some early-to-freeze roads starting Tuesday evening.

Last week, the city issued new guidelines about outdoor dining and snow removal this winter, clarifying when restaurants will or will not be allowed to continue operating in the street during inclement weather. A Winter Operation Advisory will be issued when some snow, ice or winter weather is in the forecast, but is generally under an inch of total accumulation. A Snow Alert will be issued when an inch or more of snow or ice is in the forecast.

Restaurants can continue to serve food outdoors in the street during a Winter Operation Advisory. Initially, the DSNY said that if 12 inches or more of snow were expected in the forecast, restaurants would be expected to "remove or consolidate structures, including barriers, to take up as little space as possible" in order to facilitate snow removal, but they are not currently being ordered to do so.

At a press conference on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged that restaurants are operating with a variety of outdoor dining structures, some of which are not easy to disassemble and reassemble.

"We understand each restaurant's in a different situation," de Blasio said. "The best of all worlds is when they have the ability to easily remove what they have built for outdoor dining. For some that's a lot harder than for others. But we also want to be clear that when we expect major snow it's in their interest, in everyone's interest, to clear away as much of their equipment as possible to facilitate the snow cleaning and protect their equipment."

The DSNY previously noted that because there are fewer sanitation workers this year due to pandemic cuts, there will be a decrease in garbage pickup whenever there's major snow: "Remember, the Sanitation Worker who collects trash and recycling is the SAME Sanitation Worker who prepares the equipment and salts and plows streets—and the Department can't do both functions at the same time," they said. "Trash and recycling pickup will be affected as our collection trucks become snow plows—and as plows turn back to collection trucks post-storm."

Also on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed state agencies to prepare an emergency response to the snowstorm.

"Forecasts are calling for this season's first major snowstorm in the Hudson Valley and points south, so it's once again time for New Yorkers to find their shovels," Cuomo said. "As the exact forecast becomes clearer over the next 24 hours, New Yorkers should not only monitor their local weather reports for updates, but start preparing their homes, their families and themselves for heavy snow as well."

On Monday, indoor dining was officially suspended in New York City as local hospitalization rates continue to climb. Knowing that indoor dining might be placed on pause, restaurants have been scrambling to come up with ways to attract customers to dine outdoors in the colder weather, including trying to get New Yorkers to "think of it like you’re actually going out to tailgate, so dress appropriately."