Coronavirus News: NYC considers outdoor dining legislation amid restaurant struggles

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ByCeFaan Kim via WABC logo
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
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Joe Torres has more on the efforts to continue outdoor dining.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- With New York City restaurants struggling amid the ongoing pandemic restrictions, there is a push to make outdoor dining permanent across the city's five boroughs.

Hearings are set to begin in New York City Council on Wednesday.

Though indoor dining is set to reopen next week in the city at 25% capacity, struggling restaurants are wondering how long they can last.

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According to a new survey, nine out of 10 restaurants, bars and nightlife venues in the city could not pay their full rent last month.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance says just over a third of them were unable to pay any rent at all.

"It would've been impossible. Literally, if you know we didn't have a big outdoor space we might have been closed already you know, we're lucky. I have some friends that have opened restaurants downtown. Like outdoor two or three tables. They couldn't survive, that's it," Rousselot said.

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As dining expands to limited indoor dining starting next Wednesday, restaurants will need to supplement indoor with outdoor, to make ends meet.

With colder temperatures heading our way, the question is how?

"I want to give every possible opportunity to our restaurants to succeed and survive," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Now it comes with real health and safety concerns that have to be addressed that are different with warmer weather."

Restaurants want to know what the guidance will be on heat lamps. Will propane be allowed? Will they be allowed to use electric?

Those are among the issues expected to be addressed in the legislation to be considered by City Council.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson said one piece of the legislation would permit restaurants to use propane heaters, which are currently banned. Under city law, outdoor heaters currently must be electric or be piped in from existing gas lines.

For his part, the mayor said Tuesday he will have some answers as soon as possible.

"Yeah very soon. In fact it's on the agenda I think even later today to try and resolve that," Mayor de Blasio said. "We're going to work with the city agencies, with the state."

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