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New York City amended the rules for restaurants and bars again overnight. The biggest change is that outdoor diners will no longer be able to use the restroom at the eatery. The restrictions clarify that outdoor dining structures must have two open sides, and that for takeout no customers can enter into the establishment for pickup.
In an Executive Order, the city clarified that outside dining structures must have at least two open sides for airflow. They said: “If the structure has only one open side, or no open sides, it is considered an indoor dining area and may not be used for dining. Sides are not considered “open” if covered in clear plastic or other material restricting airflow.”
The city added new restrictions that stop any customer entering an eatery at any time. All pickup and ordering must be done through a door or window, and on no account can a customer user the toilet.
The Executive Order says “customers may not enter the inside of the establishment for any reason” (including to use the restroom).
From now, all takeout orders must be placed remotely via phone or the internet. Customers may not pick up food inside the eatery. Only curbside pickup of food and beverages is allowed, which they suggest should be “outdoors, through a window.”
“I read the new outdoor dining rules this morning, and now restaurant owners can’t allow customers to use the restrooms,” said Kiara Clark from Hold Fast on Restaurant Row. “That is illegal! The city is destroying the hospitality industry. We have been following all the safety guidelines, so now people are denied the right of a basic human function, not to mention that they cannot wash their hands? Sounds truly backward to me.”
A search of City of New York’s website shows the rule that “if a food service establishment has 20 or more seats and opened after 1977, it must provide a toilet for its customers.”
Sean Hayden, owner/partner at Jasper’s Taphouse and Kitchen, and four other bars including McCoy’s, Dalton’s, and Valerie in Midtown, told us: “It’s absurd and unconstitutional. Who comes up with these executive orders? So if I have an elderly couple or a pregnant woman who wants to use the bathroom after braving the freezing temperatures outside I have to say ‘no’? As of Sunday night, we are closing all our places until further notice. It’s just not sustainable under these conditions. We’d be better off opening a place in Westchester or Long Island. At least we would have been at 50 percent indoor dining since June 3rd. It’s like the mayor and governor are purposely bankrupting the City with no solution or plan? Why not close everything — including air travel? They are using the restaurants as scapegoats all the time. With a different agenda in the rest of the state.”
“The new guidance issued by NYS and shared by NYC on the indoor dining shutdown is another example of why restaurants and bars feel like government is purposely kicking them in the gut and then stopping on their hand when they’re already down,” Andrew Rigie, head of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, tweeted. “This is absurd and must be fixed ASAP.”
Reacting to the news, Pat Hughes, the owner of Hellcat Annie’s Tap Room on 10th Avenue said: “I’ve looked them up on Amazon. Each table will have its very own toilet!” He sent us a picture.
We have contacted other business owners for their response and will update this story.