Snow removal rules pose new problem for some NYC restaurants


A snow plow clears a street during a storm.

NEW YORK CITY — The coronavirus pandemic has left its mark on nearly everything in New York City, including snow removal operations.

As meteorologists monitor two storms that could bring snow to the area next week, the Department of Sanitation issued updated snow operations guidelines on Friday to accommodate Open Restaurants participants with outdoor dining structures located in the street.

The Sanitation Department said it will use two advisories to inform restaurant owners of what to do if there is an impending snowstorm: Snow Alert and Winter Operations Advisory.

When a Snow Alert is issued, outdoor dining on roadways must end by the time indicated in the alert. Tables and chairs will need to be removed or secured, electric heaters should be removed and the tops of structures also should be taken down, if possible, the Sanitation Department said.

Snow Alerts will be issued when 1 inch or more of snow or ice is forecasted for New York City, according to DSNY. If more than 12 inches of snow or ice is expected, restaurants also are encouraged to consolidate structures, including barriers, to facilitate plowing.

When less than 1 inch of snow is expected, the Sanitation Department will issue a Winter Operation Advisory, which allows Open Restaurants participants to continue offering outdoor dining.

DSNY employees have been training to remove snow on streets with outdoor dining structures, however, the department issued a list of tips to restaurant owners to help improve safety and avoid problems with the city.

  • Use snow sticks to increase visibility.
  • Regularly remove snow and ice from sidewalks; clear a path to the crosswalk, if applicable.
  • Do not to block fire hydrants.
  • It is illegal to push snow into the street. Snow may be placed at the curbline, against the building, or on private property.

The guidance also comes as restaurant owners across New York City prepare for an end to indoor dining. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced indoor dining will be banned in the five boroughs for at least two weeks beginning Monday.

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