NYC Open Dining

NFBID Businesses participating in the Outdoor Dining program: click HERE to read the updated guidelines, and HERE for Open Restaurant FAQs. You can download the citing criteria HERE .

Additionally, NYC Department of Small Business Services has created a very comprehensive guide to reopening bars and restaurants. Click HERE to download. 

As of late August, NYC Health is beginning to conduct modified restaurant inspections in response to the health and safety concerns around the COVID-19 public health emergency. These inspections for restaurants are specific to health department concerns, and don’t deal with concerns around Open Dining or SLA. Please see below for their guidance: 

“We want to provide you with information on what an inspection will look like: 
Inspectors will undertake a daily health screening and will only be working when feeling well. They will be wearing face coverings, washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently and staying 6 feet from others, when possible. Our inspectors will expect your restaurant staff to follow these same measures. Review this inspection information sheet. 
You will be notified about the timeframe of an upcoming inspection. Inspections will be shorter, limited to checking for conditions most associated with foodborne illness, pest conditions, compliance with New York State COVID-19 requirements and smoking. 
During most inspections, inspectors will educate only and not issue summonses or letter grades. There are two exceptions: (1) if hazardous conditions are observed and cannot be corrected before the end of the inspection, the restaurant may be closed as a temporary measure to protect public health; and (2) if restaurant staff interfere or obstruct the inspection process, the NYC Health Department may issue a summons or take further action. 

NYC Health Department is modifying its procedures in the short term to protect both inspectors and restaurant staff from COVID-19. We are aware of the hardships created by the COVID-19 public health emergency and the new mandates that restaurants need to implement to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Eliminating fines and educating restaurant staff about the new requirements will, hopefully, allow restaurants to operate successfully amidst these challenges. 

During this interim period, we will be assessing our approach as we monitor the COVID-19 public health emergency in New York City. We will notify restaurants when we plan to resume normal inspections.”

A few notes on outdoor dining:

  • Outdoor dining is allowed 8am-11pm
  • Seating must be socially distanced and minimum 8 feet from the curb.
  • Please note ADA requirements (ramp access) for curb lane dining
  • Please note barrier requirements for curb lane dining (streets with 2 or less traffic lanes vs those with more than 2)
  • Rush Hour parking restrictions apply to our district with curbside travel lanes activated at the posted times
  • No curb lane dining at bus stops or 15 feet from fire hydrants
  • No curb lane dining at loading zones or No stopping/No standing zones
  • You should publicly post any documentation requested by NYC and NYS agencies
  • Create a protective barrier, such as planters or objects of similar size and weight, on all three sides of the seating perimeter that are in the roadway, to separate seating from the travel lane. Such barriers must be at least 18″ in width and 30–36″ in height (excluding plantings) on all three sides that are in the roadway, to preserve visibility for motorists and provide protection for patrons  
  • Place such barriers directly adjacent to each other (no gaps) and no more than 8′ from the curb  
  • Ensure visibility of patrons and barriers at night by clearly marking all barriers with yellow high intensity retro-reflective tape or reflectors  

More details, including diagrams, can be found HERE in the Siting Criteria. Have questions? Check out the Open Restaurants FAQ HERE.

We have heard of a number of violations issued to restaurants doing outdoor dining. Click HERE to see if there are any 311 complaints registered against your business. Stick to these rules to avoid receiving one: 

  • Provide a Safety Plan on site. Do you have yours? Use this template.
  • Provide signage to remind use of PPE, social distancing measures & cleaning/disinfecting. Need PPE? We’ve got masks at the NFBID office, contact us at 
  • Have a health screening process in place for employees
  • Employees must wear face coverings
  • Physical markings to indicate 6 feet
  • Bathrooms must have soap and paper towels OR hand sanitizer
  • Create a designated pickup and deliveries area
  • Daily log of cleanings
  • Create an outdoor streetside barrier that is 18” wide. Click HERE to read about the latest additions to the barriers guidelines

A few other notes and suggestions:

  • We are told that enforcement will likely be based on community complaints collected by 311
  • We encourage our businesses to speak with neighbors in advance to create a dialogue to address any issues that may arise before reporting
  • We suggest posting  “How’re we doing?” signage and include with a contact number or email
  • You must continue to practice and promote appropriate public safety guidelines and follow Department of Health recommendations and regulations

The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) just issued a bulletin with updated guidance for restaurants based on Mayor de Blasio’s executive orders 126 and 128.  This bulletin provides information for when a DOB permit application would and would not be required for the safe Phase 2 reopening of restaurants and bars. Click HERE to read. 

Also, please note that any licensee that expands its premises pursuant to the immediately foregoing paragraph shall, within 5 business days of doing, so submit an updated diagram to the SLA at – please include your license serial number in the subject line. Failure to do so shall subject a licensee to disciplinary charges for illegal extension of premises. More info HERE. 

If you are seeking vendors for street furniture, barriers, PPE, and more, HERE is a vendor list compiled by SBS. For barrier rental, check out Jersey Barriers: Durante Rental, Barry Lensman,, 718-697-6969

One initiative that would really help restaurants would be the passage of Assemblymember Robert Carroll’s bill, which would legalize open containers and drinking in public for the duration of the pandemic. Click HERE to read more. 

We’ve also been circulating these Tips for Being A Good Customer in the Time of COVID with our NFBID community — feel free to share them as well! 

New Guidelines for Restaurants, as of July 15th:

The bad news: 

“Three Strikes” for Violations & New Alcohol Restrictions – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced new regulations for bars and restaurants operating in New York City to ensure they are complying with state social distancing and face covering orders. As part of the “Three Strikes and You’re Closed” initiative, any establishment that receives three violations will be closed for business. Egregious violations can result in immediate loss of liquor license or closure before a third strike. Additionally, any establishment facing disciplinary charges by the State Liquor Authority will have its name and location posted publicly and updated on a weekly basis. If the state is alerted to similar noncompliance in other regions of the state, these restrictions will be extended to those areas immediately. 

The Governor also announced that all restaurants and bars statewide will be subject to new requirements that they must discontinue walk-up alcohol service. Establishments may only serve alcohol to people who are ordering and eating food and that all service at bar tops must only be for seated patrons who are socially distanced by six feet or separated by physical barriers. Under current law, only establishments that serve food are permitted to serve alcoholic beverages. 

The good news: 

The Mayor announced that NYC restaurants will have the ability to use curbside space for dining every year, starting June 1st! We are excited to hear about this revolutionary initiative to open up public space for NYC bars and restaurants. Additionally, the Open Streets & Open Restaurants initiative will be extended through October 31st 2020 along with 40 more streets being added to this program.

Phase 2 – Governor Executive Order on Alcohol

Executive Order 202.43 regarding the selling and serving of alcohol is still in place. Please read the order above. It’s a hefty fine if not complied with. While NFBID believes that this order needs to be changed and more responsibility put on the consumer, it is our responsibility to share it with our businesses.

Consumers, please help our small businesses by picking up your drink to go or taking a seat in the outdoor dining. We want our struggling business to thrive, not receive fines, in the coming months. Thank you!