Dining out has taken on new meaning in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told WNYC that outdoor dining will be allowed year-round, amNewYork reported. Open Street, the city program that closes street blocks to vehicular traffic, will also be permanent.
“I want us to go for the gold here,” the mayor told the public radio station. “I really want us to take this model and make it a part of the life of New York City for years and generations to come … I really think it’s going to help restaurants survive.”
As a result of de Blasio’s decision, restaurants can extend their seating past the front of adjacent stores as long as neighboring businesses agree.
New York winters can be cold and restaurateurs who want to heat their outdoor dining spaces with enclosures can do so. But capacity is limited at 25 percent outside as it is inside the dining room. Outdoor dining was scheduled to end Saturday, Oct. 31.
In August, de Blasio said the outdoor dining would resume in June of next year. But calls from restaurant owners and elected officials convinced de Blasio to make the initiative permanent in response to COVID-19.
It’s not known how many businesses of all kinds have shuttered since the pandemic began, the news outlet reported. But it estimated that more than 1,000 bars and restaurants have permanently closed since March.
The mayor said approving outdoor dining permits for 10,355 bars and restaurants has spared more than 100,000 jobs in the sector, citing data from the NYC Open Restaurants tracker, amNewYork reported.
Starting next week, restaurant and bar owners will be required to take guests’ temperatures and one member of every dining party must leave information for contact and tracing purposes. In addition, the requirement to keep tables 6 feet apart and masks must be worn by diners when they are not seated.
While U.S. restaurant revenues were down 9 percent year over year in August, that’s a big improvement from the pandemic’s early days in April, according to NPD Group, the New York-based research company.
The segment showed some signs of returning to pre-pandemic norms, according to a new report by the research firm. NPD researchers revealed digital ordering fell to 17 percent of the market in August, down from more than 20 percent in April.
The data also showed some diners are returning faster than others. Adult-only dining parties represented 63 percent of all August restaurant visits, while parties with children represented about 37 percent. By contrast, as of April, adult-only parties made up 59 percent of visits, while parties with kids represented 41 percent of the total.