It's officially official: New York City diners will have the option to eat outdoors this winter, thanks to an extension of the Open Restaurants program, and legislation that passed this week which will allow restaurants to use outdoor heaters. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the emergency order on Wednesday.
“We commend the City Council for passing legislation extending the critically important, temporary outdoor dining program for one year and allowing the use of heat lamps to keep customers warm during the colder months," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement.
Rigie noted that while outdoor dining has been critical to thousands of struggling restaurants in the city, the "industry is still on life support and its survival depends on safely expanding indoor dining occupancy to 50% soon, and the federal government immediately passing The Restaurants Act.” Indoor dining is currently allowed in the city at 25% capacity.
How will restaurants keep winter diners warm outdoors? Electric heaters will be allowed on the sidewalk and in the road, natural gas radiant heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only, and portable heaters fueled by propane will be allowed on the sidewalk.
According to the city, the FDNY and Department of Buildings (DOB) are "focused on streamlining the permitting processes to make installing these outdoor heating options as easy as possible for businesses, while ensuring strict adherence to safety protocols."