Mayor Directs DOT to Administer Open Restaurants Plan Ahead of Phase 2 Reopening

Image Credit: New York City Department of Transportation

Today marks NYC’s official Phase 2 reopening. On June 22, 2020, New York City officially entered Phase 2 of the State’s COVID-19 reopening plan. In preparation for the reopening, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order directing the Department of Transportation, with aid from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Small Business Services, to administer the “Open Restaurants” plan. The Open Restaurants plan will generally permit restaurants and bars to expand their outdoor seating onto sidewalks, curb lanes, backyard patios, plazas and Open Streets. To read CityLand’s coverage of the Open Restaurants Plan at the City Council, click here.

The Mayor’s executive order temporarily suspends provisions of the City’s Administrative Code, the Rules of the City of New York and the Zoning Resolution to facilitate this plan. It also suspends the prohibition of alcohol consumption on streets. The rules for program compliance are as follows:

  • outdoor seating on sidewalks not exceed the business’ frontage width;
  • that seating not extend eight feet beyond the curb lane;
  • seating cannot block bus stops, no standing/no stopping anytime zones, doorways or FDNY access;
  • there be an eight-foot clear path between the seating and curb;
  • health guidance such as social distancing and hygiene be followed;
  • restaurants provide their own tables, chairs and traffic barriers;
  • restaurants follow all other laws relating to access for people with disabilities (e.g. path of travel, minimum table heights, clearance requirements);
  • Customers will not be permitted to gather outside establishments


To access more information about the Open Restaurants program and a link to the streamlined application process, click here. The City is allowing business owners to self certify

Curb lane seating will remain available through Labor Day and sidewalk seating rules will remain in effect until the end of October. In-person retail is another main industry set to reopen during Phase 2. Additional industries set to reopen include offices, places of worship, real estate, rental leasing industries, hair salons, and a few others—all of which are subject to certain capacity and procedural restrictions.  For a full overview of the State’s Phase 2 Plan, and the industries and businesses set to reopen, click here. If still unsure if your business qualifies for reopening, use the State’s business reopening tool here.


Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said, “New Yorkers and diners- we are all in this together and we need to do our best to keep each other healthy. Please remember the core four to preventing COVID 10 whether you’re staff or a patron—maintain distance, practice good hand hygiene, wear face coverings while not eating or drinking and stay home if sick.”

Mayor de Blasio stated, “Restaurants are the backbone of New York City’s neighborhood culture, and they’ve done their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. It’s our City’s turn to help them reopen safely and responsibly,” adding, “these commonsense guidelines will help local businesses get back on their feet- and let New Yorkers safely enjoy the meal they’ve earned.”

Jonnel Doris, Small Business Services Commissioner said, “NYC is home to over 27,000 restaurants that are in need of support as we all work together to reopen. The Open Restaurants Program is an innovative response to the most pressing issues this community faces and provides opportunities for restaurant owners to generate much-needed revenue.”

*UPDATE* As of 10:00 AM on June 22, 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio reported that nearly 3,192 restaurants have applied and instantly qualified for the Open Restaurants Program.

For New York City-specific COVID-19 updates, the City has established an information site with updates from all major administrative agencies. Agencies include the Department of Buildings, City Planning, Citywide Administrative Services, the Department of Finance and the Department of Transportation among others. You can find that page here.

By: Jason Rogovich (Jason Rogovich is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019)



One thought on “Mayor Directs DOT to Administer Open Restaurants Plan Ahead of Phase 2 Reopening

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.