Albany, NY: Outdoor dining will be permitted in Phase 2 of New York’s reopening plan for exiting the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday, giving a boost to restaurant owners desperate to restart after months of a crippling shutdown.
The move means restaurants on Long Island may be able to start offering outdoor dining as soon as next week, when Nassau and Suffolk hope they will qualify to enter the next phase.
The prospect of returning chefs to kitchens, bringing back waitstaff and serving customers was a ray of hope for many business owners struggling to hold on through much uncertainty.
“We’re feeling a combination of first-day-of-school jitters and just a huge amount of relief,” said Frank Antonetti, co-owner of The Rust & Gold in Huntington. “The hope of this day is what kept us going during the toughest days of quarantine.”
He managed to keep 60% of his small staff with curbside pickup, takeout and delivery, but said it hasn’t been easy. There will be much to work out in the days ahead, Antonetti said, “But now that this day is here, any problem that comes along with it in my book is an easy one.”
Officials throughout Long Island welcomed the decision, reported Newsday.
“This will help boost the recovery of our restaurants and Main Street communities we cherish,” said Nassau Executive Laura Curran. “And in Nassau County, we are prepared to maximize this opportunity with a program to fast-track road closures in our downtowns, encouraging creative ways for shops and restaurants to safely expand.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called the action “very good news.”
Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, who was among Long Island officials lobbying Cuomo to fast-track outdoor dining, said the governor’s action “will greatly help the restaurants,” though he wants more details about requirements for masks and social distancing.