City’s POPS Reopen after COVID Restrictions Lifted

The POPS logo designed by Emma Reed. Image Credit: NYC DCP

The spaces were closed to prevent the spread of COVID. As of July 1st, the Department of City Planning announced that all Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) have reopened to the public. POPS are public spaces owned and maintained by private property owners under various zoning regulations at no cost to the City. There are nearly 600 POPS in existence today, in the forms of indoor and outdoor atriums, plazas, walkways, and other spaces that provide New Yorkers new opportunities to partake in and enjoy urban life.

POPS were closed initially for the duration of Emergency Executive Order No. 128 from June 27, 2020. However, DCP decided to reopen POPS in light of the availability of vaccines and the City’s positive COVID rate reaching record lows.

POPS should have returned to their approved hours of public access. DCP provided guidance how POPS owners should move forward with social distancing. For example, fixed seating (a cement bench) can be sectioned off with bright tape to demonstrate how many people can sit there to maintain proper physical distancing. However, that does not mean an entire bench can be taped off so no one can sit there. Owners are allowed to limited fixed seating by 50 percent by using tape and signs. Physical barriers are allowed to separate areas where seating is not permitted. POPS owners can bring movable tables back as long as they are not located within five feet of an entrance or walkway. Other rules for POPS are listed here.

To find POPS near you, the DCP has an interactive map.

City Planning Director Marisa Lago stated, “Remember POPS? As we recover from the pandemic and start to see New York City’s famed street life return, POPS are again offering spaces for the public to relax. We hope that all New Yorkers will take advantage of these gracious open spaces – and find a renewed joy in our city’s reopening.”

By: Taylor Barje (Taylor is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)


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