Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the New York City’s Open Restaurants program will return next year, hinting that the program may become a permanent seasonal fixture following its successful run this year.
The program, which helped 9,000 restaurants reopen their doors and expand outdoor dining services amid the pandemic, will start again on June 1, 2021.
City officials are also looking to start it earlier next spring and extend this year’s October 31 end date, de Blasio announced at his daily coronavirus press conference on Monday.
‘We’re going to look at whether we can go farther this year, that’s still an open question,’ he said.
The program brought 80,000 New Yorkers back to work and allowed restaurants to expand outdoor dining onto sidewalks, parking spaces, and in some areas into streets, and offered assistance to employees.
It was a great help for restaurants crippled by the pandemic to reopen their doors and get back to business.
‘I want people in communities to look forward and see that we’re going to keep coming back strong,’ De Blasio said Monday.
‘I want the folks that own the restaurants to know that they’re going to have that additional revenue going forward, the folks that work in the restaurants to know that whatever else we weather, we have seen that this experiment worked,’ he added.
De Blasio said over the weekend he marveled at the success of the program as he walked through Park Slope, Brooklyn.
‘I went out in Brooklyn this weekend just to get a look at what was going on with our open streets and open restaurants initiative. Chirlane and I walked around Fifth Avenue in Park Slope and it was absolutely amazing, restaurant after restaurant just filled with people, but the right way. Outdoors, with the right distancing,’ he said on his stroll with wife Chirlane McCray.
‘It was so good to see the life and the energy. Just felt like a beautiful New York City moment,’ he added.
As of Monday at 1pm New York City had more than 222,500 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 19,000 confirmed deaths with an additional 4,600 probable deaths. There were also 56,365 reported hospitalizations.
New York first opened outdoor seating on Phase 2 of reopening on June 22 but have run into issues of rowdy diners, tables being too close together, and crowds drinking in the streets outside bars.
When outdoor services first opened New York reported spats with boisterous and non-compliant patrons who challenged social distancing rules. Bars attracted hordes of revelers who started to drink in the street in defiance of social distancing rules.
On July 17 the New York State Liquor Authority issued guidance requiring that alcoholic beverages must be accompanied by the purchase of a food item in a bid to crack down on drunken customers.
Under the guidance food is defined as ‘sandwiches, soups or other foods, whether fresh, processed, precooked or frozen’ and rules out snacks like chips, pretzels and nuts.
Furthermore Cuomo has sent out SLA teams to observe restaurants over the past month and issue citations to eateries that violate these strict outdoor dining and alcohol guidelines.
On Monday De Blasio announce the city’s infection rate was as low as one percent.
On Saturday NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state’s hospitalizations were the lowest since the start of the pandemic.
On Saturday the state observed three COVID-19 deaths – the lowest three-day average of deaths since mid-March. No deaths were reported in New York City on Saturday.