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City Council Approves Extending Outdoor Dining Program, Use Of Heaters

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Thursday marked a major step forward for outdoor dining.

The plan also allows businesses to use outdoor heaters as the weather gets colder, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

New York City foodies can get comfy eating al fresco, because outdoor dining is here to stay.

Julie Greene from the Upper East Side is thrilled.

"I think that's wonderful. It reminds me of Europe. All these cafes outside. It's wonderful," Greene said.

MORE: New York City To Make Expanded Outdoor Dining Areas Permanent, Mayor De Blasio Says

The City Council voted to continue the current outdoor dining plan for another year, laying the ground work for a permanent plan for the five boroughs that includes using city road space.

Agustin Panahaya, manager at Made in New York Pizza on the Upper West Side, said he's relieved. The legislation allows restaurants to use propane and electric heaters on the sidewalk only, not in the street.

"It's hard for us, because if you don't put the heat outside the people's not gonna come," Panahaya said.

More than 10,000 restaurants are certified for outdoor dining. Extending the program gives them hope to survive the cold winter months under continuing COVID-19 restrictions.

But Andrew Rigie, executive director for the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said more needs to be done.

"We still need support from the federal government. There's a bill called the 'Restaurants Act,' which would help restaurateurs pay for the rent, their utilities, their vendor expenses, their payroll," Rigie said. "But, listen, another year of outdoor dining, we're thrilled about it and it's going to help a lot of these places just try to stay afloat."

"I think they're overcoming. They're being really creative on how they can make it work. I think it's great," Greene said.

Restaurant owners are hoping indoor capacity will increase to 50% by November.

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