New York City (NYC) it’s been a while since the pure luxury of enjoying a nice meal out has been nonexistent. A bit over three months to be exact, but that will all change today. As NYC moves into Phase two of the city’s multi-phase program of COVID-19 reopening, “The Open Restaurant Program” is active as of June 22nd. The plan allows restaurants to utilize expanded outdoor dining options.
Dining outdoors does come with city and state guidelines; however, the fact that New Yorkers can once again enjoy a meal outside of the home is enough of a reason to celebrate. The instructions are plenty; however, currently, there aren’t any plans in place to police that restaurants are following guidelines and no way of enforcing them either. Therefore for these guidelines to work, it is the responsibility of the Restaurants and their patrons.
NYC is returning to a sense of normalcy, but what does that mean for restaurants and their diners? Here is what you need to know:
When does the “Open Restaurant Program” becomes effective?
June 22, 2020
Who is eligible to apply to Open Restaurants?
Any food service establishment licensed by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
How is a restaurant able to offer outdoor dining?
Several Restaurants were already offering an outdoor seating option and had permits in place. And they can begin operating immediately. But social distancing and safety protocols need to be in place. I.e., tables being six feet apart, mandatory face covering, hand washing, gloves, etc. Restaurants with outdoor patios, gardens, or rooftops do not need to apply for the use of private property. Other establishments can determine if they meet the requirements to be eligible to open their sidewalks and/or roadway seating area and apply to be an Open Restaurant. Community-based organizations and groups of food establishments may apply for an open street option by completing this application. Open Street is planned for July. Streets will be closed on nights and weekends to accommodate this part of the plan. Here are the Open Street locations.
Please Note: Applying is an acknowledgment that the establishment meets the requirements, understands, and agrees to all terms, applicable laws, and guidance.
What Documents are necessary to Self-Certify?
- Business name (DBA), address, and contact information.
- Food Service Establishment Permit number.
- Dimensions of sidewalks and/or roadways seating area.
Establishments that plan on offering alcohol must provide State Liquor Authority (SLA0 serial number, SLA license information, and Licensee certification.
What is consider outdoor seating?
As per the city here are the guidelines:
- Seating and tables must be up against the wall of the business or as close as possible.
- Sidewalk seating area may not exceed business frontage.
- Must leave an 8′ clear path for pedestrians
- Must be at least 3′ from the adjacent business
- Cannot block utility hardware or Siamese water connection
- Cannot block bus stop waiting area
- For precise path purposes, parking meters, traffic signs, and tree pits with flush gratings (without tree guards) are exempt. All other above-grade structures are considered obstructions.
- The applicant must provide tables and chairs.
- Create a protective barrier, such as planters or objects of similar size and weight, on all three sides of the seating perimeter that are in the roadway, to separate seating from the travel lane. Such barriers must be at least 18” in width and 30-36” in height (excluding plantings) on all three sides that are in the roadway, to preserve visibility for motorists and provide protection for patrons (see Siting Criteria diagram).
- Place such barriers directly adjacent to each other (no gaps) and no more than 8’ from the curb (see Siting Criteria diagram).
- Roadway seating may not exceed the length of business frontage.
- Ensure visibility of patrons and barriers at night by clearly marking all barriers with yellow high-intensity retro-reflective tape or reflectors (see Siting Criteria diagram).
- Provide a ramp for ADA compliance, which can be made of non-permanent materials.
- Not place seating or barriers within 15’ of a fire hydrant. Doing so jeopardizes fire safety for your fellow New Yorkers.
- Do Not place seating or barriers within 8’ of a crosswalk, to provide for safe vehicle turns and avoid crowding.
- No lighting, that is blinding to passing traffic.
- Not place seating within a No Stopping Anytime or No Standing Anytime zone, bike lane, bus lane/stop, taxi stand, or Car Share space.
[Exception: For part-time No Stopping or No Standing zones, seating may be placed when those rules are not in effect. Barriers and seating must be removed from the roadway when No Stopping or No Standing is in effect].
- Only utilize umbrellas with a weighted base, and such umbrellas may not extend past the barrier or obstruct access to or ventilation of utility covers.
- Not run power cords or other items across the sidewalk to the roadway seating.
- The applicant must provide tables, chairs, and barriers.
- Remove tables and chairs or secure them in place when not in operation.
- Comply with NYC Fire Department Open Flame and other applicable Fire Codes.
Restaurant owners may:
- Leave barriers in place within a metered zone, alternate side parking, or No Parking Anytime zone, provided that that tables and chairs are removed or secured when not in operation.
- Where seating is authorized along a curb, install a platform behind the required barrier to flush height with curb to facilitate ADA compliance, prevent the curb from becoming a tripping hazard, and allow drainage to underpass seating.
- Such platforms shall not block rainwater drainage, getting to the curb or flowing along the curb.
- Such platforms shall not obstruct access to or ventilation of utility covers.
What if there’s a bus stop or bike lane, is the restaurant still eligible for roadway seating?
Yes, however, seating cannot be placed in a bus stop, bus lane, taxi stands, or car share parking space.
Is there a fee to apply for Open Restaurant + do I need insurance?
There is no fee to apply, and yes, you should contact your insurance broker to make sure your coverage is sufficient.
Will Restaurants operate at their regular hours of operations?
No, the hours are as follows. Monday through Saturday from 8 AM to 11 PM and Sunday from 10 AM to 11 PM.
How long will Open Restaurant last?
Roadway eating is valid through September 8th, 2020, and sidewalk seating through October 31st, 2020.
What does all of this mean for diners?
It means that NYC diners must responsibly enjoy outdoor dining. By wearing face coverings while waiting to be seated and while not actively eating and drinking. Taking necessary safety measures is imperative.
NYC is embarking on the new territory, and the guidelines implemented by the city and state should be taken seriously. It is the responsibility of the restaurants, and it’s diners to take the necessary measures and adhere to protocols. Many other states have had challenges with reopening including a spike in COVID-19 cases (Texas, Oregon, Florida). Open Restaurant is a great way to help restaurants rebound from the effects of COVID-19 and a great way to push the economy along. And there is a great deal of uncertainty. There is a great need for responsibility.
As Always, Sending Love. Stay Safe.