Outdoor dining has been added to the list of permissible activities that can resume under Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
The Long Island region is on track to begin the second phase June 10, he added Thursday.
“COVID-19 is still a real threat and we’re still battling it. I know it’s not on the front pages today, but it is still in people and in society,” Mr. Cuomo said. “But thanks to the people of New York and the nurses, doctors and essential workers, today we have the lowest number of hospitalizations ever and we have the lowest death toll ever. We are continuously evaluating activities that can be safely reopened, and today we are adding outdoor seating at restaurants to phase two,” he said.
Outdoor tables must be placed six feet apart and all staff members are required to wear face coverings, according to the governor’s office. Customers, when not seated at their table to dine, must also wear face masks.
Officials locally are already preparing to allow restaurants to serve outdoors in advance of Phase 2 beginning.
According to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, plans are in place to fast track outdoor dining approvals under the Suffolk County Department of Health.
Restaurants in Riverhead may now apply for outdoor dining permits that could see tables placed in public spaces. The town board voted last week to waive fees for outdoor dining permits.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell announced the town would issue temporary permits for restaurants to allow outdoor dining. The permits, Mr. Russell said, will be free of charge to help businesses regain their footing after a three-month shutdown.
“We are confident that by instituting these measures we can allow restaurants to expand beyond their interior spaces and get our community back to work sooner, all while keeping the patrons and employees socially distant and safe,” the supervisor said in a statement.
The application is available online here http://southoldtownny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/7816/Application-for-temporary-permit-for-outdoor-dining and may be submitted via email or U.S. mail to government liaison officer Denis Noncarrow.
According to the town’s application, restaurants must place a physical barrier to protect guests from vehicular traffic that cannot exceed four feet in height and may only be used between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. The temporary permits would expire Nov. 1 and do not allow for outdoor bars.
Discussions are also ongoing in Greenport Village on permitting creative reuse of outdoor spaces as recovery from COVID-19 shutdown begins.