New York City’s street life has been buzzing since phase two reopening in New York City when the Open Restaurants initiative was launched. Spots ordinarily taken for parking have been converted into lively dining destinations while indoor dining is still off-limits (and has been officially postponed for phase 3 as of today). New York City restaurants have taken to the opportunity, showcasing very creative, enticing outdoor decor, including sun umbrellas, plants, and dividers to help separate guests. In Brooklyn, some sidewalk spaces have been allocated to bands playing music. So far, 6,100 restaurants have already applied and gotten that certification for outdoor dining in under two weeks.

The success of the outdoor initiatives so far has led to the combination of two programs: Open Streets and Open Restaurants. By July 4th, 10 to 20 corridors will be approved for both outdoor dining and open streets. According to the Mayor’s office, “Restaurants on these corridors will go farther away from the curb than other Open Restaurants participants, and the rest of the streets will be open to pedestrian traffic.”

Westville in Chelsea Outdoor Dining

The hours of operation for this new expanded seating option for restaurants will be from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday nights, and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. An additional 10 to 20 corridors will be approved starting Friday, July 17. Expanded seating will last until Labor Day. BIDs and community-based organizations can apply to Open Streets and Open Restaurants on the DOT’s website, and the city will quickly review applications and consult with elected officials and Community Boards to ensure optimal safety measures.

Outdoor dining in parking spaces in ChelseaOutside the restaurant Cafeteria in Chelsea, tables, planters, and umbrellas are in what were formerly parking spaces. A bike lane separates this section from the sidewalk dining that is also available.

People having drinks at Cafeteria in Chelsea

“So, we’re going to reach out to every single restaurant that qualifies, but has not yet applied, and help them to apply,” to the Open Streets and Open Restaurants initiatives, de Blasio said. “We’re going to work with BIDs. We’re going to work with the Hospitality Alliance, chambers of commerce, everyone – let’s get every restaurant into outdoor dining. Let’s maximize their revenue, bring back their workforce, but keep it outdoors primarily while we figure out the indoor piece.”

The rest of phase 3 is moving on pace for Monday, June 6, which means that the city will also reopen outdoor recreational spaces, including basketball courts, tennis courts and dog runs, as well as beaches on July 1. The city is continuing to open up more streets to pedestrians and cyclists to maintain social distancing, with over 40 miles so far.

Hunky Dory Open WindowThe restaurant Hunky Dory in Crown Heights has a take-out window and will soon take over a neighboring empty lot.

Although new coronavirus cases, deaths, and hospitalizations continue to decline across New York City, Mayor de Blasio and other New York officials have expressed concerns about following through with indoor dining on Monday when the city enters phase 3. In Monday’s press conference, de Blasio acknowledged that while many New Yorkers want to dine indoors, there also exist many problems, especially since many states across the nation are making dine-in rules more strict. The final decision on indoor dining during phase 3 will be announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo this morning at his press conference.

“In East Lansing, Michigan recently 85 patrons tested positive for the coronavirus, all linked back to a single restaurant,” de Blasio said. “In Texas and Florida, we’ve obviously seen, has gotten a lot of attention, record number of cases, clusters being tied back to bars and restaurants. California had made great progress, they’re now unfortunately slipping back and they are changing the rules regarding bars and restaurants. So, we’re paying attention to this lesson.”

City Council Member Mark Levine has also created a petition to Mayor de Blasio asking the pause the planned reopening of indoor service at bars and restaurants. Levine wrote that there is growing scientific consensus that there is a greater risk of coronavirus spread in indoor settings and that is would be harmful for restaurants to reopen indoor dining and then close soon after. Levine is asking people to add their name to the petition at this link.

Next, check out These 9 NYC Public Beaches Reopening July 1st!

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