The program ends in October and the two politicians ask for more openings and indefinitely
Restaurants have hit the streets to stay active during COVID-19. /Archive
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City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer has joined State Senator Jessica Ramos in asking Mayor Bill De Blasio to keep the city’s open streets program year-round and not end it in October as planned, in addition to expanding it to more public roads.
The goal is to keep bars, restaurants busy, prioritizing pedestrians and bicycles while slowing down traffic. It is also about encouraging businesses to take activities outdoors while COVID-19 maintains its pulse with the city.
The disease has not disappeared and the arrival of autumn and winter puts a lot of pressure on commercial activities, which is why both politicians ask De Blasio to continue closing the streets to traffic. In this sense, they recall that 90,000 jobs have been maintained thanks to this program and that more than 10,000 restaurants open their activities, something that cannot be taken a step back.
Restaurants will be able to start receiving diners from September 30, but only at 25% of their capacity and there are no plans yet on expanding this, so Stringer and Ramos consider that it makes no sense to lose “vital public space to end of October when the pandemic continues and it is necessary to maintain social distance ”.
Moreover, they ask that in addition to restaurants, the street be opened for small businesses and services, which would allow for offers from clothing stores, wineries or nail salons on the sidewalks.
The letter they both send to the mayor indicates that closing the program at the end of next month will deny New Yorkers safe spaces to enjoy the outdoors where they can also eat. “But it will also directly hurt small businesses and underserved communities of color that are relying on this program to survive.”
The request to the mayor is that a way to make life on the street safe during the winter months be contemplated and that heating lamps be used to make it possible. These lamps are widely used in southern Europe but in France they have begun to ban them due to the polluting emissions of butane among other reasons.
Stringer and Ramos recall that the city has already lost more than 2,800 small businesses when the virus has affected the life of the city, and many more may be lost, something that harms immigrants, who own 62% of the total businesses in the city and its employees.
“Now is not the time to backtrack on the necessary goal of neighborhood equity and open space. In fact, it is time to take advantage of opportunities and radically reimagine the landscape of our streets for the benefit of all communities ”, they explain to De Blasio.