City Council votes to keep outdoor dining, guidelines set for heaters

October 16, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
City Council votes to keep outdoor dining, guidelines set for heaters
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On Thursday, Oct. 15, the New York City Council announced that it had voted to extend the outdoor dining program through next year and to allow restaurants to use portable electric and propane heaters for outdoor dining in these upcoming colder months.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson added that the council is also going to make it a permanent program.

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, commended the council for legislation, saying that it will help restaurants during the winter 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,” he said. “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 percent soon and the federal government immediately passing the Restaurants Act.”

The previous day, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the Department of Buildings (DOB), Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FDNY in releasing guidelines for restaurants that will stay open heating devices this fall and winter.

Participants in the Open Restaurants program have been given three options to provide heat. One, electric radiant heaters, will be allowed in sidewalk and roadway seating setups.

A second consists of natural gas radiant heaters, which will be allowed on the sidewalk only.

Then there are portable heaters fueled by propane that will be only allowed on the sidewalk. These must be regulated by the FDNY.

Each agency has focused on streamlining the permitting processes to make installing these outdoor heating options as easy as possible for businesses.

“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,” said de Blasio.

“Streamlining the outdoor heating requirements will help our friends and neighbors weather this crisis,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca. “We are offering clear guidance to restaurant owners so they know what they need to do to safely keep outdoor dining open now that summer has come to a close.”

Last month, de Blasio announced that the outdoor program will be extended year-round.

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