Town of Oyster Bay officials, business leaders and restaurant owners met in front of downtown Oyster Bay restaurant 2 Spring in an effort to send a message on Thursday.
“Such an area like Audrey Avenue is the perfect opportunity to close down the street, make outdoor dining more available to provide more space and to get this done right,” said Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino. “This will not only help restaurants provide additional dining space, but it will also allow for an increased pedestrian access to our downtown area.”
Nothing is in the works just yet, however. In order for Long Island to open, it must see a decline in hospitalizations, deaths and infections over a 14 day period, along with a 30 percent availability of ICU and hospital beds in health care facilities. Also, the area must have available 30 tests per 1,000 people per month and establish contract tracing systems. The Long Island region has met four of those metrics.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has laid out a layered plan for businesses. Under his plan, retail can open in Phase One, however business is limited to in store or curbside pickup. Restaurants can reopen beyond take out in Phase Three and retail can operate beyond pickup in Phase Two. Long Island has not yet qualified for a Phase One reopening yet and there will be at least two weeks between each phase.
Saladino argued that certain industries, such as local shops offering curbside pickup and residential construction, can safely operate in Oyster Bay. “We know that there are some hotspots, especially in Suffolk County.,” Saladino said. “But here in the Town of Oyster Bay, the number of cases is very low now.”
The Town of Oyster Bay has seen 159 cases of Covid-19 throughout the pandemic, according to Nassau County Department of Information statistics, while Nassau County has seen 39,487 cases. “We know in the Town of Oyster Bay, you can get this done safely and we are ready, we are willing and we are able to provide the dining experience safely to our residents,” Saladino added.
In order to move forward with closing Audrey Avenue to provide enough space for diners and pedestrians to safely socially distance, the town must receive approval from the state. Town Councilwoman Laura L. Maier, a business owner herself, said that press conferences like the one that took place on April 21 are partly meant to send a message to state officials. “The challenge we have, myself as a small business owner and a restaurant owner, when we open up our stores is we want to be thriving,” she said. “Adding this extra dining element outside will hopefully help and get some normalcy back to Oyster Bay.”
Upon approval, Audrey Avenue at the intersection of Spring Street will be closed to vehicles from 4 to 10 p.m. from Friday to Sunday. From there, the town will add more space, block by block, closing the road all the way up to South Street.
Restaurants will not be required to apply for permits or pay any fees. The town, Saladino said, is planning to work individually with each restaurant to coordinate the outdoor dining. Additionally, alcohol can be served to customers dining on Audrey Avenue. This should allow ample space to socially distance while dining and shopping, town officials said.
Under this motion, sidewalks and ramps must remain accessible, tables must be separated to maintain safe social distance and public health regulations must be met.
Philip Perfetti, a chef at Del’s Bar & Grill, said he is looking forward to the day his customers can dine out on Audrey Avenue. His staff is currently serving customers through take out. “We need to get out,” Perfetti said. “Everybody has been trapped for a little bit too long now.”
“I know a lot of people lost their jobs so I hope [Gov. Cuomo] has a heart to change things a little bit so that we can provide curbside dining and everybody can get back slowly to a little bit of normalcy,” Perfetti said.