For weeks, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, working with local supervisors and mayors, has pushed the state and State Liquor Authority for a series of innovative actions to help restaurants provide alternatives to traditional “dine-in” set-ups, and enable them to take advantage of the important summer dining season. New York State has taken Dutchess County’s suggestions and yesterday authorized restaurants to offer outdoor dining once the region is in Phase II. Phase II is currently anticipated to begin on or about Tuesday, June 9th, pending state authorization.
“This is big news for our local restaurants after weeks of pushing the State to give these local businesses a real chance at survival – particularly during the critical summer dining season. We’re grateful to the State, and particularly Chairman Bradley and the State Liquor Authority for this accommodation.” said County Executive Molinaro. “With Phase II just around the corner for the Mid-Hudson Region, restaurants and local municipalities have the opportunity to get prepped now and be ready to welcome customers next week as soon as we get the Phase II green light.”
Original State guidance said on-premise dining would not be allowed until Phase III. County Executive Molinaro pushed hard to allow the flexibility for local restaurant operators to be able begin sooner, as the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is vital for restaurant operations.
Under the new guidance released yesterday, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) is allowing outdoor, on-premises service of alcoholic beverages and/or food to resume. It also provides options expand outdoor dining premises as advocated by County Executive Molinaro.
Once a region is in Phase II, restaurants can offer outdoor dining under the following guidance:
- Food and/or beverage must be consumed in outdoor, open-air areas, without a fixed roof (besides a temporary or seasonal awning or cover).
- Food and/or beverage must be consumed while seated at a table, bar, counter, or similar contrivance.
- All tables must be 6 feet apart; any seat at bar, counter, or similar must be 6 feet apart.
- All staff of the licensed business must wear face masks at all times.
- All customers must wear face masks at any time they are not seated.
- Any consumption shall be subject to all other relevant executive orders, guidances promulgated by the Department of Health, and/or any other relevant agency guidance.
Following the suggestions from Dutchess County, the SLA guidance allows for the expansion of premises, under the current establishment’s license, where food and beverages may be consumed. This includes municipal-owned land (e.g. sidewalks, streets, etc.) contiguous to a licensed establishment in coordination with the local municipality.
To expedite this process, County Executive Molinaro will issue an executive order, to go into effect before the County enters Phase II of Re-Opening on June 9th, waiving local regulations and requirements that could cause a potential burden or delay for local establishments to expand outdoor dining space. The executive order will also aid in the local efforts to provide access to municipal-owned land. County Executive Molinaro, during his biweekly conference call with local Mayors & Supervisors, reviewed the new SLA guidance and strongly encouraged local leaders to assist their local restaurant operators in taking advantage of this opportunity.
Complete SLA guidance for outdoor dining can be found here: https://sla.ny.gov/new-york-state-liquor-authority-guidance-outdoor-expansion-licensed-premises-response-covid-19
“Now more than ever before, we need to think creatively and be willing to push beyond normal operating procedures to give our local businesses a real chance at survival. These business owners have sacrificed a great deal, closing down or severely restricting their operations, to keep our community healthy and safe. We must be willing to think creatively to help return them to vitality and bring our Main Streets back to life,” concluded Molinaro.
Dutchess County Government continues to provide residents the most current information on its COVID-19 Community Impact Dashboard, as well as guidance on its website, dutchessny.gov/coronavirus, its Coronavirus hotline, (845) 486-3555, and its Facebook and Twitter accounts.