NYC announces Open Storefronts program to help small businesses live through pandemic

By Xia Lin

NEW YORK, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced the Open Storefronts program, permitting businesses to use a portion of their sidewalk to display merchandise, sell goods, complete transactions, and provide queuing areas.

Building on the success of the Open Restaurants and Open Streets programs, Open Storefronts, running from Oct. 30 till Dec. 31, will provide safe spaces for small businesses to rebound in challenging economic times, said a government press release.

"This program is a part of an effort to make New York City the world's capital for healthy outdoor living and to advance the Mayor's recovery agenda, which is centered on public health and social justice," it said.

"Rebuilding a fairer, better New York City means maximizing use of our outdoor space, helping businesses keep their employees, and giving New Yorkers more reasons than ever to shop local and enjoy their communities. Open Storefronts does all three," de Blasio was quoted as saying.

"This program builds on the successful legacy of our Open Streets and Open Restaurants programs, and I look forward to finding more ways than ever to reimagine our urban landscape," he added.

According to the program, an eight-foot clear path of sidewalk from the curb must be maintained for Open Storefronts to operate. Retailers cannot use the space of adjacent businesses, and they must bring all furniture and goods indoors when closed.

Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, more than 1 million residents are out of work, and the unemployment rate is nearly double the national average, according to The New York Times on Tuesday.

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