NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday announced an expansion of the Open Streets program for restaurants.

Starting Monday, restaurants will be able to apply for permission to essentially take over an entire block for outdoor dining.

Restaurants could use sidewalk space for tables and expand into the street as well.


The street itself would be closed off to traffic except for emergency vehicles.

The idea is to create more business for restaurants that are limited to the number of customers they can serve.

The expansion would begin July 4th weekend, and only be allowed after then during subsequent weekends.

More than 5,000 restaurants have applied for outdoor dining permits so far, so the city expects more applications for this next step.

"They need to do it safely with good setups, and obviously we'll wanna work with PD and FDNY to ensure emergency vehicles have access, but we think this will give another chance for restaurants to get even more outdoor space."

The city expects to have as many as 20 block-wide restaurants up during July 4th weekend.