New York City's "Open Restaurants" program, which has allowed restaurants and bars to operate street seating during the pandemic, has been a lifeline to the struggling dining industry, with over 10,000 establishments taking advantage of it since its introduction in June. It had been due to expire at the end of October, but Mayor Bill De Blasio announced today that the initiative has been made "permanent and year-round."

In addition to the permanent extension, the city is expanding the program, allowing the use of heating and enclosures, and will allow seating to extend to adjacent properties with neighbors’ consent.

“Open Restaurants was a big, bold experiment in supporting a vital industry and reimagining our public space. And it worked,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As we begin a long-term recovery, we’re proud to extend and expand this effort to keep New York City the most vibrant city in the world. It’s time for a new tradition.”

This also applies to "Open Streets: Restaurants" initiative, which currently offers restaurants expanded space on 85 car-free streets citywide on certain days, and it will expand to more streets as well.

You can read more about the expanded Open Restaurants program here.

NYC is set to allow indoor dining, at 25% capacity, on September 30.

Good news as that is, a recent industry survey found that nine out of 10 NYC restaurants and bars have not been able to pay full rent since lockdown. But New York City’s local law 1932-A, which temporarily suspended personal liability clauses in commercial leases of businesses affected by COVID (which means landlords can't go after business-owners' personal assets for not paying rent), has been extended through April 2021.

Many just think it's a stay of execution without financial support from the city, or rent suspension. “Honestly, I think most of us are fucked either way,” Marie Tribouilloy, who co-owns Bushwick’s Ops, told Grub Street. “It’s just buying us a little hope when without solid federal help, winter will be the death of all of us.”