New York City restaurants and bars will open over multiple phases. Each phase will have different requirements based on seating/dining types, occupancy levels, and protocols.
As of today, restaurants and bars generally have the following reopening guidelines:
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.
If you have any questions, you can call our hotline, 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692).
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.
Select a topic below for information to help you and your business, including tips to stay safe and prevent the spread of germs.
Remember the four key actions all New Yorkers should take to prevent COVID-19 transmission:
These guidelines, and other health and safety protocols, apply to all areas of your operation, including any outdoor dining areas.
Restaurants and other food service establishments are allowed to reopen for indoor dining starting on September 30. They will be subject to rigorous inspection protocols and strict occupancy limits. Some requirements include:
If New York City hits 2% in COVID-19 positivity rates, the City will immediately reassess.
Once indoor dining begins, the public will be able to call 833-208-4160 to make a report or text VIOLATION to 855-904-5036.
View a recording of our Indoor Dining Guidelines webinar held on September 23.
Please continue to watch for emails from us (sign up here) as more information will be shared.
Currently, NYC restaurants can open for table service in outdoor areas only. “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.
The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) released additional guidance regarding the use of heating elements to winterize outdoor dining setups.
Participants in the Open Restaurants program interested in providing comfort heating for their customers in outdoor dining areas have three options:
Food service establishments with private outdoor dining spaces may use heating devices subject to the applicable guidance from FDNY and/or DOB.
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. This program is designed to help existing NYC restaurants that have been authorized by New York State to re-open under Phase Two and want to use additional outdoor areas on a temporary basis.
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.
For help completing the application, please call the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) hotline: 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692).
On September 25, 2020, NYC announced that the popular Open Restaurants program will be made permanent, and restaurants will be permitted to use heating and enclosures, and expand seating to adjacent properties with neighbors’ consent. The City will work with the City Council to make the regulatory changes necessary to make the program permanent.
Specific guidance is forthcoming. 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.
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.
As NYC re-opens post-COVID19 and restaurants expand outdoor seating to accommodate social distancing, we cannot forget about accessibility. This information lays out the requirements for maintaining physical accessibility for outdoor dining.
The NYC Department of Small Business Services 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:
Sign Up for a Virtual Compliance Consultation
On June 18, Governor Cuomo amended Executive Order 202.43 (EO) to include updated guidance for food and beverage establishments effective immediately.
Under the amended Executive Order 202.43, businesses selling or serving alcohol to be consumed at the business or elsewhere must ensure that everyone within 100 feet of their business is:
Violations could result in having a license suspended or revoked, with fines up to $10,000 per violation.
Patrons can also be fined for breaking open container or social distancing rules.
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.Full Guidance from the State Liquor Authority
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.