Governor Cuomo 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 by the Governor, 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.
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. Establishments were permitted to expand the licensed premises to use public spaces, 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.
With the conclusion of the declared Disaster Emergency, the Executive Orders must be codified by the Legislature to continue in effect. The legislation was necessary to allow the State Liquor Authority the discretion to continue to permit licensees to use 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 new law. 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. All licensees who were using such spaces may continue to do so, but you will be required to provide the SLA with a notification within 90 days (subject to soon-to-come guidance from the Authority).