Restaurant and bar owners should remember:
When the cold weather hit, many New York City restaurants and bars winterized their outdoor dining structures by partially or fully enclosing them to help keep their customers warm while dining outside during the winter. However, with limited indoor dining banned again in New York City, a renewed focus has been placed on the rules governing these outdoor dining structures. Restaurant and bar owners should remember:
- A structure is only considered outdoor dining if it has two or more sides that are open to the air
- A structure with one open side or no open sides is considered indoor dining. Because indoor dining is prohibited again, these structures cannot be used.
- Sides are not considered open to the air if they are covered with plastic or other materials that restrict air flow.
Fines and Penalties: The Alliance has spoken out against the recent closure of safe, highly-regulated indoor dining in New York City. In addition, we believe changes to the requirements governing outdoor dining structures should be made, to allow these structures to be comfortable for diners in the cold weather while maintaining adequate airflow. However, these are the current requirements, and they are being enforced. Permitting customers to dine in outdoor structures that do not meet these requirements is considered by the state to be no different than permitting indoor dining. Violations could result in the suspension of your liquor license, five-figure fines, and even the cancellation of your liquor license.
We encourage all restaurant and bar owners to review the Department of Health's Interim Guidance for Food Service, the State Liquor Authority's FAQ and the City's Open Restaurants roadway seating requirements for additional information.