Restaurants and bars in New York City have been absolutely devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing economic fallout. In a recent survey, 60 percent said they will not make it till the end of the year without some sort of financial relief. Although the commercial eviction moratorium has been extended to October 20th, almost 90 percent were unable to pay full rent in August, with 34 percent of them unable to pay any rent at all. This was during the warm summer months, now that the calendar has turned to the fall, NYC is extended outdoor dining year-round to try and save this vital industry.
Restaurants may expand seating to the frontage of adjacent properties, as long as the adjacent property owners formally agree to the use of the space for a specified period of time and commit not to charge a fee for its use. NYC will work with the State Liquor Authority (SLA) on any requirements associated with extending alcohol service to the expanded seating in front of adjacent properties. In early October, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) will issue a template agreement and provide instructions on how to file the agreements.
Restaurants may incorporate heating elements into their outdoor dining setups. Electrical heaters will be allowed on both sidewalks and roadways. Propane and natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks ONLY, they will remain prohibited in roadway seating. Propane will require a permit from FDNY and compliance with FDNY regulations for outdoor use, handling, and secure outdoor tank storage overnight. Official guidance on what will be considered approved installation and use of heating elements will be released before the end of September and restaurants are prohibited from installing heating elements until guidelines are released and followed.
Restaurants may use tent enclosures. In partial tent enclosures, at least 50 percent of the tent’s sidewall surface area must remain open and electrical heaters are allowed. In full tent enclosures, the tent’s sidewalls may be closed but occupancy limitations will be capped at 25 percent of capacity, and indoor dining guidelines must be followed; electrical heaters will also be allowed. Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, will be allowed for individual parties and must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation.
NYC and various stakeholders will develop road safety features by November 15th. This must include dedicated space for trucks to be able to make deliveries quickly and efficiently. This vital space was taken to accommodate outdoor dining and has been used to increase ticketing on trucks. This is also the time to eliminate the flawed clear lanes/clear curbs program in Midtown Manhattan.
Also, The state finally issued guidelines for indoor dining at NYC establishments. In the beginning, capacity will be limited to no more than 25 percent of maximum occupancy, exclusive of employees. Temperature checks must be taken and logged of everyone who enters and each party must submit a contact form for tracing purposes. These guidelines are a mix of requirements and mandatory best practices but expect enforcement to be strict.