Closure of Indoor Dining in New York City
To mitigate the spread of this disease, food establishments will not be permitted to offer indoor dining beginning on Monday, December 14.
The Governor's Executive Order 202.81, effective Monday, December 14, 2020, mandates that all licensed establishments in New York City with on premises service privileges must cease all indoor on premises service until further notice. Details HERE
Food establishments that are located outside of State-designated “red zones” are still permitted to offer take-out, delivery, and outdoor dining. Food establishments that are located within State-designated “red zones” may continue to offer take-out and delivery only. If you are a restaurant owner whose establishment is permitted to offer outdoor dining, you may still sign up to participate in the Open Restaurants program by visiting nyc.gov/openrestaurants
. If you are already participating, you may use the same link to check siting requirements and ensure your set up is compliant.
Remember: New York State’s current guidance for outdoor and take-out/delivery food services
permits restaurants to install a temporary or fixed cover (i.e. awning, roof, or tent) only if two (2) or more side walls are open. If your structure has fewer than two (2) side walls open, it is considered an indoor dining area and therefore cannot be used for dining unless: a) you modify the structure to be compliant with New York State’s guidelines; or b) State officials announce that indoor dining may resume.
If you would like support on converting these structures so they are in compliant with Open Restaurant requirements, you may request a virtual compliance consultation by visiting nyc.gov/business.
COVID-19 Micro-Cluster Strategy and Localized Restrictions
COVID-19 infection rates are beginning to spike in some New York City neighborhoods. Governor Cuomo announced a new cluster action initiative to prevent further spread of the virus.
New York State’s new Micro-Cluster Strategy
is addressing COVID-19 hot spots that have cropped up across the state.
The City of New York is taking action by implementing restrictions in three zones identified by the State — red, orange, yellow.
Effective Friday, November 13, at 10 p.m., all bars, restaurants, and gyms or fitness centers, as well as any State Liquor Authority-licensed establishment, are required to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.
Restaurants will are still allowed to provide curbside, food-only pick-up or delivery after 10 p.m. so long as otherwise permitted, but cannot serve alcohol to go. The State Liquor Authority will issue further guidance for licensees.
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:
- Stay home if sick: Stay home if you are sick unless you are leaving for essential medical care (including testing) or other essential errands.
- Physical distancing: Stay at least 6 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 & 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 6 feet from others and wear a face covering if they are less than 6 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 6 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 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.
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.
Guidance for Use of Heating Devices
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:
- Electric radiant heaters will be allowed in sidewalk and roadway seating setups. Full electric radiant heaters guidance from DOB here.
- Natural gas radiant heaters will be allowed on the sidewalk only. Full natural gas radiant heaters guidance from DOB here. Natural gas radiant heaters must also comply with the Fire Code.
- Portable heaters fueled by propane will be allowed on the sidewalk only. Propane heating will be regulated by the Fire Department (FDNY), with requirements for safe handling, use and storage. Full propane-fueled portable heating guidance from FDNY here.
Food service establishments with private outdoor dining spaces may use heating devices subject to the applicable guidance from FDNY and/or DOB.
Read the Counsel to the Mayor’s Outdoor Heaters for Outdoor Dining FAQ.
Open Restaurants Program
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.
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. The program, currently under development, will continue to allow food service establishments with business frontage on the ground floor and licensed by the NYC Dept. of Health to utilize sidewalk and roadway area for outdoor seating.
Open Restaurants Siting Criteria - Winter 2021
*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.
Plastic Water-Filled Barriers How Tos Flyer
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.
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.
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.
Sign Up for a Virtual Compliance Consultation
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.
NYS Guidance for Businesses Selling or Serving Alcohol
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:
- In compliance with open-container, social-distancing, and face-covering rules; and
- Following all existing rules, regulations, and laws.
Businesses that cannot follow these guidelines must stop selling alcohol until they can.
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.
You can learn more and watch the announcement here.
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.
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.