Last June during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo passed an executive order creating a one-year outdoor dining program.
After a year of widespread adoption (especially in New York City), Cuomo finally signed legislation this past Wednesday that will allow restaurants to continue operating in public spaces for another full year.
“By extending the much-needed lifeline that allowed restaurants to use outdoor public spaces for seating during the pandemic, New York is ensuring that these small businesses will be able to continue to use these spaces as they work to rebuild and support the revitalization of the Empire State,” Cuomo said during his announcement Wednesday.
While many of the governor’s pandemic measures, including many partial closures and limits on capacity, are expiring as the city returns to normal, outdoor dining’s continuation speaks to the program’s popularity among many of the state’s residents.
Wednesday’s announcement comes on the heels of other recent developments regarding open streets.
Back in June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that several streets throughout the five boroughs will be permanently transformed into pedestrian and bike-friendly “Open Boulevards” starting this summer, dramatically expanding the limited street closures that currently exist.
“In a year of dramatic changes to our urban landscape, Open Boulevards will transform New York City’s streets like never before,” de Blasio explained. “The recovery for all of us will come to life on these streets, where small businesses, restaurants, artists, pedestrians, and cyclists will gather to create the kind of destination you can only find in the greatest city in the world.”
The Open Boulevard will expand upon the current provisions made for Open Streets by adding more permanent signage, landscaping, and advertising on select streets. Like Open Streets, the new boulevards will be closed to traffic to allow for outdoor dining, performance space, and pedestrian access.
Approximately $4 million has been allocated to the Open Streets program since its creation. However, the program has been subject to criticism by business owners who believe the work of placing and removing barricades has unfairly become their responsibility.