Outdoor Dining in N.Y.C. Will Become Permanent, Even in Winter

The program has become a vital lifeline and allowed more than 10,000 restaurants and bars to take over sidewalks, streets and other public spaces.

By Winnie Hu

Even when the pandemic ends, New Yorkers will not have to give up dining by the curb.

As many of New York City’s 25,000 restaurants and bars fight to survive, Mayor Bill de Blasio extended a lifeline to them on Friday by making a popular outdoor dining program permanent.

In a crowded city where space on the streets and sidewalks is at a premium, the decision underscores how the pandemic has rapidly upended urban life.

The Open Restaurants program has allowed more than 10,300 restaurants citywide to offer outdoor dining by setting up tables on sidewalks, in streets and in other public spaces.

The outdoor dining program, introduced in June, had been scheduled to end on Oct. 31.

“Open Restaurants was a big, bold experiment in supporting a vital industry and reimagining our public space — and it worked,” Mr. de Blasio said. “As we begin a long-term recovery, we’re proud to extend and expand this effort to keep New York City the most vibrant city in the world. It’s time for a new tradition.”

The program has allowed restaurants to generate at least some income as they struggle to pay rent and keep some workers on the payroll. Indoor dining has been banned since the city was shut down by the pandemic, but is scheduled to restart next week at limited capacity.

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