New York City will officially enter phase two of its reopening on Monday, allowing outdoor dining at restaurants, in-store shopping – sending up to 300,000 people back to work.
Mayor Bill de Blasio gave the greenlight on Thursday amid a steep decline in coronavirus cases since the peak of the outbreak, but warned New Yorkers will still have to maintain a safe social distance and capacity limits will apply.
The long-awaited announcement will come as a relief to restaurants and bar owners who have been among the worst-hit by the pandemic following the mandatory shut down in March.
The mayor declared outdoor seating ‘is the way forward’, as he unveiled a dining plan that will allow businesses to operate by using five different options including the ‘Open Streets’ program which could see roads pedestrianized and converted into large eating areas beginning in July.
‘Outdoor dining, it’s a new reality, we’ve had it before but the way we have to do it now is very new and different and we’re ready,’ De Blasio said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio declared outdoor seating ‘is the way forward’, as he unveiled a dining plan that will allow businesses to operate by using five different options including the ‘Open Streets’ program
A restaurant in Soho offers outdoor social distancing dining on the sidewalk and in a portion of the street during the Phase 1 reopening in New York on June 13
Under phase 2, restaurants can open sidewalk seating to customers until October. The plan applies to establishments that never utilized outdoor space before. Pictured: People dining at a Soho restaurant during phase 1
Restaurants that already have sidewalk and backyard/patio seating can open the space for customers beginning on Monday and through October.
The plan includes a new option of utilizing curb lane seating by placing dining tables in parking spaces or the roadway area of the curb, through Labor Day.
The first few weeks of phase two will give way to the Open Streets program in July that will allow restaurant seating on closed streets for nights and weekends.
Businesses with existing liquor licenses will be permitted to serve alcohol outdoors.
Venues, however, will be required to be compliant with social distancing guidelines, with outdoor tables spaced six feet apart and employees must wear masks.
NYC OUTDOOR DINING PLAN
Curb lane seating (pilot through Labor Day):
- Dining areas cannot stretch beyond eight feet of the curb.
- Cannot block fire hydrants, bus stops, or no stopping zones.
Sidewalk seating (through October)
- Cannot go further than the restaurant’s store front.
Backyard and patio seating
Open streets seating (nights and weekends beginning in July)
- Additional information to be released
Plaza seating through Business Improvement Districts
Customers will have to wear masks or protective coverings unless seated.
Outdoor dining will also be regulated by a strict set a rules. Sidewalk dining cannot stretch beyond the restaurant’s storefront and curb lane dining cannot exceed the eight feet depth of the curb.
Tables cannot block bus stops or fire hydrants and cannot be placed in no-stopping zones. They will be separated from the travel lane with a barrier.
Restaurateurs will be able to go online starting on Friday to apply to open with seating on the sidewalk, in a backyard patio or using parking spaces.
‘The Department of Transportation will work with community groups and partner agencies to identify additional seating within full streets closures in July,’ officials said.
‘Restaurants can work with their local Business Improvement District and DOT to request additional seating in plazas.’
Mayor De Blasio said the move will save about 5,000 restaurants and 45,000 jobs.
‘We know that restaurants define greatness in the city. We’re going to make sure we save restaurants, that is the mission,’ he said.
‘We want to make sure it’s easy for restaurants to come back; that means using outdoor space in the beginning.’
The second phase also means offices, retail shops and hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen their doors.
City and state officials have faced mounting pressure to accelerate the Big Apple’s reopening plan as COVID-19 figures have continued to fall.
But Cuomo and de Blasio have been cautious, warning that moving too quickly could cause numbers to surge, as has happened elsewhere in the country after lockdowns were lifted.
New York City currently has one of the lowest infection rates in the country, with just one percent of tests coming back positive over a seven-day rolling period.
Businesses will be required to comply with social distancing guidelines and outdoor tables must be spread six feet apart
On Wednesday Cuomo announced that just 17 new daily deaths were reported across the state overnight.
NYC PHASE 2 REOPENING
Open under Phase II:
- Outdoor dining at restaurants
- Retail – in-store shopping, rental, repair and cleaning, barbershops and hair salons with limited service, motor vehicle leasing, rental and sales
- All office-based jobs – professional services, administrative support, information technology
- Real estate services – building and property management, leasing, rental and sales services
Establishments that must remain closed:
- Malls, gyms, movie theaters and similar public gathering places
- Nail salons
- Indoor dining at restaurants and indoor service at bars
- Places of public amusement -amusement parks, carnivals, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children’s attractions
That number stands in stark contrast to figures from just 10 weeks ago, when the state was losing nearly 800 people per day.
The Big Apple entered the first phase of the reopening on June 8, marking the end of a grueling 11-week lockdown.
De Blasio had previously warned that the city likely wouldn’t begin the more extensive second phase until early July, despite ongoing improvements in coronavirus figures and mounting pressure to get businesses back up and running.
On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo announced he felt the city is ready to move forward with the June 22 plan.
‘New York City will have been Phase 1 for 14 days. Look at all the numbers, all the numbers are good,’ the governor said at his press conference Wednesday.
‘Look at the number of tests, the positive tests, you look at it from the point of reopening, the numbers are good. Hospitalizations since reopening, the numbers are good, so New York City is on track to enter Phase 2 on Monday.’
He then cited successes in other parts of the state that were already given the green light to enter Phase 2.
‘The same metrics we use in New York City are the same metrics we’ve used in every region across the state and they have all shown to be accurate and effective,’ he said.
‘We don’t change the rules for New York City. We don’t change the rules for Long Island. It’s one set of rules for everyone and they have worked everywhere in this state.’
Cuomo called on New York City residents to remain vigilant in their personal efforts to slow the spread of the virus by continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing.
‘Employers, storeowners, employees, individuals, local governments have to be responsible and do their job,’ he said.
The second phase also means offices, retail shops and hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen their doors. Pictured: Ramy Brook on Madison Avenue, Manhattan