Updated guidelines and rules for dining operations have been developed by New York State and must be followed throughout the reopening phases. These include guidelines for physical distancing, cleaning and disinfection, communication, and screening.
These guidelines and requirements may change, so please check the New York Forward site regularly for specific phase instructions.
You can also visit nycsmallbizcourses.eventbrite.com and search "Reopening Guidelines" to sign up for an upcoming webinar to learn about State requirements, recommendations, and resources available to help businesses reopen in NYC.
Remember the four key actions all New Yorkers should take to prevent COVID-19 transmission:
Stay home if sick: unless you are leaving for essential medical care (including testing) or other essential errands.
Physical distancing: Stay at least six feet away from other people.
Wear a face covering: Protect those around you. You can be contagious without symptoms and spread the disease when you cough, sneeze or talk. A face covering may help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Practice healthy hand hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Clean frequently touched surfaces regularly. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, and cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve, not your hands.
Call the Health Department right away at 866-692-3641 with any questions or to report a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Physical Distancing and Face Coverings
These guidelines, and other health and safety protocols, apply to all areas of your operation, including any outdoor dining areas.
Give workers free face coverings and provide replacements. Workers must stay at least six feet from others and wear a face covering if they are less than six feet from others. If you are a small business looking to secure free face coverings for your employees, find a distribution partner located near you.
Customers should wear a face covering whenever they may be within six feet of another person. A business may set stricter rules for customers about wearing face coverings, including refusing service for those not wearing face coverings.
To help your business reopen safely, the City has compiled this directory of local and national manufacturers and suppliers of non-medical PPE and other supplies for COVID-19 related workplace modifications. (These companies are not endorsed by the City of New York.)
Currently, NYC restaurants can open for table service in outdoor areas. “Outdoor space” is an open-air space without a fixed roof. Outdoor spaces may include public sidewalks, curb lanes or other approved areas, and outdoor private areas on premises.
Enclosures with a temporary or fixed cover (i.e. awning, roof, or tent) must have at least two open sides for airflow to be considered "outdoor space". If three (3) side walls or more are in use, it will be considered indoor dining and may not currently be in use. Enclosed structures, such as plastic domes, must have adequate ventilation to allow for air circulation.
Restaurants with access to privately owned outdoor space may open in this space, as long as following the appropriate NYS and NYC health guidance and NYC DOB Guidelines.
Establishments seeking permission to place outdoor seating in front of their establishment on the sidewalk and/or roadway should apply for the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT)'s Open Restaurants Program.
Note: This application is only for establishments seeking permissions to place outdoor seating in front of their establishment on the sidewalk and/or roadway. You do not need to apply if you are looking to place outdoor seating on private property. You must complete an application and certify even if you already have a NYC sidewalk cafe license.
*Important: These adjustments were required by December 15, 2020
Sandbags, reflector tape, snow sticks, and plastic barriers were made available to all participants, free of charge. Participating restaurants were emailed with distribution and pickup detail. Limited deliveries of plastic barriers were made to the "high priority" restaurants; those restaurants have all been contacted separately.
All 18" roadway barriers must be completely filled with soil or sand
Barriers must have a fully built interior wall and bottom to hold filler material
Continuous reflector tape must be added along the top outside edges, and snow sticks must be added to the corners of the two barriers facing traffic
During an active snow alert:
Diners may not sit in roadway setups. Tables and chairs in roadway must be removed or secured.
All electrical heaters in roadway setups must be removed
At minimum, regularly remove snow from overhead coverings until the snow alert ends.
Please continue to watch for emails from us (sign up here) as more information will be shared.
For questions about the Open Restaurants program, self-certification process, or translation assistance with the application, please contact DOT online.
Open Streets: Restaurants
NYC is temporarily expanding outdoor seating options for food establishments. The program is expanding seating options for restaurants on select restaurant corridors citywide by temporarily closing streets to traffic to create outdoor dining space. Community-based organizations, BIDs and restaurant groups applying through a single entity may apply for Open Streets: Restaurants online.
Virtual Compliance Consultations: Open Restaurants Program
The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) offers one-on-one free virtual compliance consultations to help you understand how to comply with key City rules. Our virtual consultations will help you understand key City rules and common compliance challenges related to the Open Restaurants Program - we will not issue violations or fines.
Business owners are encouraged to request a consultation if they:
Have recently applied to Open Restaurants and are getting to ready to provide food service
Are actively participating in Open Restaurants but continue to have questions/concerns
Are interested in applying to Open Restaurants but have not yet done so
You can sign up for our Virtual Compliance Consultation service at no cost by logging into your SBS Connect account or creating a new account.
The Open Storefronts program assists existing ground-floor storefront businesses who want to use outdoor areas on a temporary basis. The program allows eligible businesses to conduct activity on sidewalks, on roadways (only in the Open Streets: Restaurants program), or a combination of both. The program has been extended through September 30th, 2021 and now allows businesses to sell pre-packaged food on sidewalks and restaurants to use sidewalks for take-out orders.
Next Steps: Businesses that self-certified will receive an email from the City authorizing outdoor retail on the City's sidewalk and/or roadway in front of the establishment, in accordance with all applicable terms and conditions, laws and guidance. Businesses should print and prominently display their Open Storefronts email confirmation.
Governor Cuomo signed an executive order on July 16, imposing requirements and restrictions on the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants whose liquor licenses require that they also make food available to patrons. All restaurants and bars statewide must only serve alcohol to people who are also ordering and eating food, and all service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers.
Additionally, as part of the "Three Strikes and You're Closed" initiative, any establishment that receives three violations will be shut down. Outdoor dining is for just that: outdoor dining. New York State does not approve outdoor bars where you set up tables for people to place drinks and then have a block party of 100 people mingling outside. Citizens can report violations to the NYS Liquor Authority.
NYS Liquor Authority (SLA) Guidance on Outdoor Expansion of Licensed Premises in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak
Read SLA guidance and FAQs about on-premise licenses in relation to outdoor dining and "to-go" alcoholic beverages here.
Posters and Flyers
Download and print to hang in your place of business with information for employees and customers. If you would like to order copies of these posters and flyers by mail, call 311.
The City has tried to provide you with correct information on this website. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate and up-to-date, errors are still possible. The information provided is not legal advice. You may need additional information to meet the legal requirements for starting or operating your business.