How New York City will keep outdoor diners warm this winter

Restaurants will have three options for providing heat for outdoor dining experiences in the winter

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Thursday, October 15, 2020
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Lauren Glassberg reports on outdoor dining in NYC from Hell's Kitchen.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York City Council approved the new guidelines for outdoor dining released by Mayor Bill de Blasio for the winter season.

Oh Thursday, the council voted to extend the outdoor dining program through next year and to allow residents to use heaters for outdoor dining as the weather turns colder.

The mayor announced the details that will allow restaurants to use heated devices.

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Participants in the Open Restaurants program interested in providing comfort heating for their customers in outdoor dining areas will have three options.

Those options include:

Electric radiant heaters, which will be allowed for sidewalk and roadway seating setups.

Natural gas radiant heaters, which will be allowed on the sidewalk only.

Portable heaters fueled by propane will also only be allowed on the sidewalk. It will be regulated by the fire department.

"These guidelines are designed to keep diners, employees, and pedestrians safe and healthy - and we look forward to giving New Yorkers more chances than ever to enjoy the outdoors year-round," Mayor de Blasio said. "Restaurants make New York City the greatest city in the world, and we're proud to support their continued recovery from this crisis."

Restaurants with private outdoor dining spaces may use heating devices subject to guidance from the FDNY or the DOB.

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Each agency is planning to focus on streamlining the permitting processes to make installing outdoor heating options as easy as possible for businesses, while ensuring proper guidance with safety protocol.

"The Department will work closely with our fellow agencies to ensure that outdoor dining can continue to operate safely for business owners, employees, and customers," Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

There are many rules about safe use and storage of these heaters, all in the hopes of preventing any possible fires.

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, released the following statement:

"We commend the City Council for passing legislation extending the critically important, temporary outdoor dining program for one year and allowing the use of heat lamps to keep customers warm during the colder months. Outdoor dining has been monumental to reviving thousands of struggling restaurants able to avail themselves of the program, protecting jobs, and returning a sense of vibrancy to our neighborhoods. Although outdoor dining has been overwhelmingly successful, the city's restaurant industry is still on life support and its survival depends on safely expanding indoor dining occupancy to 50% soon, and the federal government immediately passing The Restaurants Act."

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