As dining out at restaurants resumes as a part of everyday life, a critical lifeline to restaurants and bars during the pandemic has been extended to help bolster the number of servable patrons in line with state recovery efforts.
Recently, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo approved legislation allowing restaurants to continue using municipal spaces like sidewalks and closed off streets for outdoor dining. First granted under an executive order by Cuomo, the new law extends the special usage of public space by restaurants for another year, allowing them more opportunity for economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As we build New York back better than it was before, it's important that we learn from the past and capitalize on those efforts that helped so many of New York's small businesses survive amid the global pandemic," Cuomo said of the legislation. "By extending the much-needed lifeline that allowed restaurants to use outdoor public spaces for seating during the pandemic, New York is ensuring that these small businesses will be able to continue to use these spaces as they work to rebuild and support the revitalization of the Empire State."
Many local New York restaurants were impacted especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as many more continue to struggle alongside the state’s recovery. This continued support via the use of public spaces provided by the state builds on previously passed legislation like the eight hundred million dollar COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program.
"I applaud Governor Cuomo's signing of legislation to extend outdoor dining and beverage sales for on-site consumption on sidewalks and adjacent slivers of municipal land for an additional year,” stated New York State Senator Roxanne Persaud. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, dining establishments have struggled to remain open. It has been a pleasure to work with Assembly Member Pat Fahy and colleagues to craft a policy that will assist numerous small businesses in recovering from the economic fallout. I thank the Governor and our Legislative Leaders for coming to a swift agreement on this important measure."
Initially announced in June 2020 and set to expire until it was extended, Cuomo’s executive order authorized restaurants and bars to serve their patrons food or beverages on-premises in outdoor space while their indoor capacity was limited. More specifically, establishments were allowed to expand their premises to public spaces like sidewalks, as long as they followed reasonable limitations and supervisory plans set forth by their local municipalities.
When restaurants use outdoor public space, they must meet all federal, state, and local laws, and must obtain a temporary use permit from their local municipality in order to correctly utilize the newly permitted space. In regards to new applicants, they will also need to provide a community announcement consistent to New York state Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.
In line with the conclusion of the state’s previously declared disaster emergency, executive orders must be codified by the state legislature to continue usage or rely on other existing regulatory power. In this specific instance, the legislation was mandatory to authorize the state Liquor Authority’s judgment to continue use of public space without prior approval.
"Outdoor dining utilizing sidewalks and street space has become a financial lifeline for restaurants during the pandemic. Not only has it helped hundreds of small, locally owned businesses remain in business, it's also proved a popular boon to our local economies and 'Main Streets,'” New York State Assembly Member Patricia Fahy commented. “This legislation will allow those restaurants to continue utilizing outdoor spaces for another year to help keep their doors open and continue to help them get back on track, and I commend the Governor for extending New York's 'open streets.'"
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