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Outdoor Dining Will Now Be Permanent and Year-Round In This Major City

Many said the program should expand beyond the summer — and the mayor agrees.

There are hundreds of streets in New York City, but right now almost 90 are part of the city's Open Restaurants program. The initiative allows restaurants to use roads for safe outdoor dining during the coronavirus pandemic. At first, it was temporary, but many in the restaurant world support it continuing even as the weather cools off. It was originally scheduled to end on October 31, but Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced it will be made permanent.

Under the plan, restaurants can use eight feet of the street adjacent to their location for seating within a barrier. The sidewalk must be clear. Restaurants can even expand onto the adjacent property with that owner's okay. (Unfortunately, some restaurants won't be able to open their doors this winter, here are 9 Restaurant Chains That Closed Hundreds of Locations This Summer.)

In colder weather restaurants can use heating lamps and other electric heaters. Propane and natural gas heating systems can only be used on the sidewalk. Tents can also be used for warmth as long as half of it is open for air to flow.

As for if it snows and the "winter weather creates potential for inclement weather to impact road conditions, the City will engage the restaurant industry and other stakeholders to develop additional safety features to further strengthen roadway barriers," the city says.

The use of heaters and tents won't be restricted to New York City, though. Others like Chicago, San Francisco, and more are gearing up for colder outdoor dining, as well. Portable heating orders have skyrocketed from places like Amazon, Wayfair, and other companies, according to the New York Times.

Expect to see a few other interesting things while dining out this winter. Blankets will be in stock for customers to use and restaurant menus could look different. Some eateries are considering adding more comfort food — think warm and hearty appetizers, entrees, desserts, and even hot cocktails. For more, here are 5 New Things You Can Expect to See in Most Restaurants This Fall.

Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda
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