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Coming snowstorm cancels outdoor dining on heels on indoor shutdown

A garbage truck with a plow clears the street during a snowstorm in Brooklyn.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

With the second wave of COVID-19 having put indoor dining on ice for at least two weeks, New York City restaurant owners are about to take another hit — this time from Mother Nature.

More than a foot of snow may drop on the five boroughs between Wednesday and Thursday — and because of the forecast, the city is telling restaurants to move outdoor seating out of the roadways so plows and salt spreaders can come through.

The late fall snowstorm — arriving about five days before the winter solstice — is forecast to arrive in New York on or about 4 p.m. on Dec. 16; its current track indicates a major snow event for the city, with the National Weather Service predicting heavy wind and anywhere from 10 to 16 inches of the white stuff by the time the storm leaves Thursday morning.

It stands to be the first major winter storm in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic, and roadways will need to be kept clear to allow for emergency vehicles to pass through.

And the city isn’t taking any chances on a bad forecast.

On Monday night, New York City government issued a snow alert, and the Department of Sanitation began mobilizing its fleet of snow plows and salt spreaders in anticipation of the storm.

The agency is also also readying “brine trucks” that will spread a salty concoction ahead of the storm across the roadbed on some streets to help deter snow and ice accumulation; these trucks will likely be dispatched beginning Tuesday night.

But to get the plows and salt spreaders safely down each street, the city needs the roadways clear.

In addition to suspending alternate-side parking on Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 16-17, the city also ordered all roadway dining seats closed by 2 pm Wednesday; however, the city is not asking the restaurants to remove any barriers or structures at this point.

The city advises that restaurants remove or secure any tables or chairs in the roadway, but remove all electrical heaters. Overhead coverings should either be removed or regularly cleared of snow.

Roadway dining may be resumed when the snow alert ends, which may occur either on Thursday night or Friday morning, Dec. 18, depending on accumulation and street conditions, according to the Sanitation Department. Any removed tables, chairs, electrical heaters and/or overhead coverings may be restored once the snow alert ends.

All businesses and property owners are advised that they must not push or shovel any snow into the street, as it impedes plowing operations. They must also shovel a minimum 4 foot wide path in front of their property soon after the last flakes fall.

Outdoor dining aside, roads may be generally dangerous and commuters are being asked to used mass transit if possible. New Yorkers should also use caution when walking, biking, or driving, city officials reminded Monday.

Notify NYC is also encouraging New Yorkers to charge their cellphones and gather supplies while there is still power, and to set their refrigerator and freezers to a colder setting — just in case.

For more information, visit www.weather.gov.

This story first appeared on AMNY.com.

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