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New York City’s “Open Restaurants” program, which allows outdoor dining for restaurants, will be extended to year round, the mayor’s office announced.
The program, which had been set to expire Oct. 31, will allow restaurants to expand seating to adjacent properties with consent. It also lets restaurants use propane and natural gas heaters on sidewalks with a permit. Electrical heaters will be allowed in dining areas on both sidewalks and roads.
The program, which lets restaurants put temporary dining rooms on streets and sidewalks, started in June. It’s a bid to help restaurants that have suffered amid social distancing during the outbreak of Covid-19. Restaurants have struggled to adapt as lower capacity rules limit sales and consumers stay home.
“We already have well over 10,000 restaurants participating, well over 100,000 jobs have been saved,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview on WNYC announcing the decision. “We hope it’s going to make it a lot easier for restaurants to survive.”
One New York restaurateur dismissed the initiative as too little, too late, and coming at no small cost.
“You have to figure a tank of propane a night per table. A tank costs about $40; it only heats smaller areas. That’s around $3,000 a week in propane right there,” said Jeff Katz, owner of Crown Shy restaurant in New York’s Financial District. “Good luck getting a heater now if you haven’t gotten one. Everything online is like, we’ll ship in February. This announcement comes really late.”
— With assistance by Henry Goldman
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