New York – Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, and Council Members announced the Council will introduce legislation requiring opening up spaces throughout the five boroughs for outdoor dining amid the COVID-19 pandemic. NYC Hospitality Alliance, NYS Latino Restaurants, Bars, & Lounges Association and restaurant owners joined the Council in a press conference announcing the legislation.

The legislation will require the City to identify open spaces (including sidewalks, streets, and plazas) where restaurants and bars can follow social distancing measures and safely serve customers outside. It would create a fast, simple permitting process that would allow outdoor service thorough the City to start quickly once we begin re-opening.

“As we continue to address the struggles due to COVID-19 and try to move forward, supporting New York City’s restaurants, bars and dining establishments is essential as they have been especially hard hit by this crisis. Expanding outdoor dining space will not only help these restaurants thrive financially but give our City a sense of normalcy. The restaurant industry is a huge part of New York City. No matter where you live, you love your local restaurants. This legislation will help give all New Yorkers better access to enjoy and support their local restaurants,” said Speaker Corey Johnson.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated restaurants across New York City. As a result, restaurant owners and staff are facing crippling economic hardship while our communities mourn the temporary, or permanent, loss of beloved neighborhood establishments. I am thrilled to join City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in introducing a bill to allow restaurants the use of street space for outdoor dining. This legislation will enable establishments to continue to offer service while still allowing for proper social distancing. I look forward to the relief that this will bring New York City’s restaurant industry and the joy that it will bring to New Yorkers who will soon be able to safely enjoy their favorite local restaurants in the outdoors,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

“Reimagining how we use our public space and allowing restaurants and bars to serve patrons in these areas will be key to safely restarting our city. The hospitality industry has been devasted by COVID-19 and New York City will never fully recover unless restaurants and bars are at the core of that recovery,” said Andrew Rigie, Executive Director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance.  

“As the Association representing the interests of hundreds of minority-owned restaurants and bars throughout New York City, we are thrilled by the leadership of Speaker Johnson and Council Member Reynoso in advancing legislation on outdoor dining. At a time when our industry is struggling to make ends meet, this type of creative and innovative policy will serve as a lifeline to the restaurant and bar industry. We thank Speaker Johnson and Council Member Reynoso and look forward to working with the rest of the Council to advance this critical legislation,” said Jeffrey Garcia, President of the NYS Latino Restaurant, Bar & Lounge Association.

“When restaurants can’t reopen, communities can’t reopen. Serving outside will help restaurants that have been economically crushed by COVID-19 recover faster and will ensure we’re protecting our staff and customers’ health and safety,” said Melba Wilson, owner of Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem.

“I’ve been in the restaurant business for over 15 years and never could have imagined the scenario we face today. We need to think big and we need to think out-of-the-box. That is exactly what Speaker Johnson and Council Member Reynoso have done with this proposal and I want to thank them for their leadership. Outdoor space is going to be vital as restaurants begin reopening and timing is everything.  I urge the City Council to move this bill swiftly and I urge Mayor de Blasio to sign it into law so that we can begin reimagining our industry post-COVID-19,” said William Padilla, Owner of Mamajuana Cafe Bronx.  

Quotes from Other Sponsors of the Legislation

“It is estimated that as many as 30% of NYC restaurants may not recover from COVID-19. Now is a time for innovation, and Speaker Johnson was first to take charge and open up the dialogue aimed at providing additional space for restaurants. I commend him for drafting this legislation, which aims to provide our small businesses with more opportunity for recovery, while also remaining within the necessary guidelines for Social Distancing. Now more than ever, our small businesses need us, and I am proud to stand beside Speaker Johnson in supporting them,” said Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo.

“Giving restaurants the option to maximize their seating capacity by utilizing outdoor space will go a long way towards helping them survive in a way that is safe for employees and diners when our city is ready to reopen,” said Council Member Mark Gjonaj.

“As summer approaches, open air dining would be a great way to safely begin opening back up our city, enable restaurants to survive, and offer a little bit of happiness in our wounded city. Creative approaches like this are needed to give our small businesses new opportunities for revenue and New Yorkers a chance to breathe life back into our streets safely,” saidCouncil Member Brad Lander.

“As the son of a restaurant owner, I know that restaurants, cafes, and bars are the vibrancy of our city. Right now, we must be creative in how we help these businesses that are among the hardest hit. Opening up street space and plazas allows for these businesses to recover and for New Yorkers to stay safe. Thank you to Speaker Johnson and Council Member Reynoso for your efforts,” said Council Member Keith Powers.

“As our city reopens we want to help local restaurants and vendors recover from the economic impacts they’ve experienced due to this pandemic,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “This is one of our creative ideas to present opportunities to restaurants who have been closed for these past few months or solely relied on take-out and delivery. We also want patrons to feel normal following social distancing rules while visiting their favorite restaurant,” said Council Member Donovan Richards.

“As we look to reopen New York City, the City must act quickly to ensure bars and restaurants can re-open safely and with as much flexibility as possible. I’m thankful that the City has followed through on its promise to the Council to open 40 miles of Open Streets – now they must work with the Council to expedite and equitably expand outdoor cafes and seating. I’m proud to sponsor this critical legislation to give New Yorkers the ability to safely patronize and support our struggling small businesses,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.

“I’m proud to sponsor the outdoor dining bill as a pivotal first step in giving businesses — especially those struggling in The Bronx — an opportunity to survive this pandemic. As we continue to learn how to navigate through these uncertain times, public safety is of the utmost importance. These seemingly small yet crucial steps are essential as we start to reopen,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca.

“This summer, New York will need to make bold decisions to help reduce new cases while reopening our restaurants and small businesses. Letting them use sidewalks and streets, allowing them to make money, and keeping people employed while also allowing social distancing needs to be one those bold changes. I’m proud to help sponsor this legislation and will work along with my Council colleagues to make it a reality,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.