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Metro Creative Connection

Cuomo signs legislation permitting use of municipal space for outdoor dining

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Wed, Jul 7th 2021 07:05 pm

Legislation extends governor's executive order; new law allows restaurants to operate on municipal sidewalks & closed streets

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed legislation (S.6353-A/A.7733) that will allow restaurants to utilize municipal spaces like sidewalks and streets for outdoor dining. First granted under an executive order, this law allows restaurants to continue using these public spaces for another year as they recover from the economic devastation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As we build New York back better than it was before, it's important that we learn from the past and capitalize on those efforts that helped so many of New York's small businesses survive amid the global pandemic," Cuomo said. "By extending the much-needed lifeline that allowed restaurants to use outdoor public spaces for seating during the pandemic, New York is ensuring that these small businesses will be able to continue to use these spaces as they work to rebuild and support the revitalization of the Empire State."

Restaurants were especially impacted by the pandemic, with many continuing to struggle as New York recovers. The continued use of public spaces builds upon other supports provided to these establishments by the state, including the $800 million COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program.

Initially issued in June 2020 and expiring after a year, the governor's executive order allowed restaurants and bars to serve their patrons food or beverages on-premises in outdoor space while their indoor capacity was limited. Specifically, these establishments were permitted to expand the licensed premises to use public space such as sidewalks or closed streets, subject to reasonable limitations and procedures set by the State Liquor Authority and the safety and supervision plans of the local municipality.

A press release stated, “With the conclusion of the declared disaster emergency, the executive orders must be codified by the Legislature to continue in effect or rely on other existing regulatory power of a state agency. In this case, the legislation was necessary to allow the state Liquor Authority the discretion to continue the use of this space without prior approval.

“Restaurant usage of outdoor public space must meet all federal, state and local laws, rules and guidance, according to the signed legislation. Restaurants must also have a temporary use permit from the municipality, which is tasked with ensuring the public space is used in a safe, orderly manner. New applicants will need to provide community notification in a manner consistent state Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.” 

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