New York Eateries Struggle With Outdoor Dining Covid-19 Anxieties

Posted: Jan 13, 2021

New Yorkers exhausted from nine months of wearing face masks and avoiding friends now have something new to worry about: Winterized outdoor dining structures that look like potential hotbeds of COVID-19.

Whether shaped like cozy yurts or fancy wooden cottages, there are some outdoor structures that have been so protected from the freezing cold that they appear nearly identical to indoor dining at a time when eating inside has been banned.

One diner who asked not to be named said she recently went to a high-profile West Village restaurant that was covered entirely in plastic, except for the entrance. Sure, it was warm, but “it was not done right and it is not OK. I didn’t feel safe,” she said.

Event planner Jung Lee says the issue crops up every time she scours the city for spaces for her clients to safely host small events. “The majority of outdoor dining spaces are enclosed in plastic with no ventilation,” Lee lamented.

“Very few restaurants are doing it properly because it is so expensive,” Lee said.

“The individual bubbles work because you are just with your group, but they are not common."

By Jennifer Gould
January 11, 2021

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