Photo: Alex Williamson/BK Reader

New York City diners and restaurant workers can raise a glass to the City Council’s overwhelming decision to continue outdoor dining into the future.

On Thursday, the council voted 46-2 to extend the current outdoor dining program until September 2021, then replacing it with a permanent program that uses city roadspace.

The legislation also allows restaurants to permanently use propane, natural gas and electric heaters outdoors, subject to guidelines issued by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). The legislation is now waiting on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature.

The legislation was first introduced to the City Council by Bushwick City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso in early September. He said the city’s outdoor dining program had been a “remarkable success.” 

“This is a huge win for the restaurant industry and its workers, diners and the morale of residents,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to craft outside the box solutions for how we can safely revitalize our city and its economy.”

Electric heaters will be allowed in sidewalk and roadway seating setup, natural gas heaters will be allowed on sidewalks only and portable heaters that use propane can only be used on sidewalks. De Blasio said the guidelines were designed to keep diners, employees and pedestrians safe and healthy.

“We look forward to giving New Yorkers more chances than ever to enjoy the outdoors year-round,” de Blasio said. “Restaurants make New York City the greatest city in the world, and we’re proud to support their continued recovery from this crisis.”

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