A new New York City Council bill could help restaurants, but at a price for diners.
On Wednesday, the council passed a law allowing restaurants to add a “COVID-19 Recovery Charge” to a customer’s bill, as long as the charge is “clearly disclosed” on the menu and on the bill.
By law, the charge can only reach 10% of the customer’s total bill.
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New York City restaurants have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, starting with statewide closure and restrictions on meals in person.
Even now, restaurants in the city are only allowed to serve food outdoors. From 30 September, restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor meals, but only with a capacity of 25%.
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There are doubts as to whether 25% of the capacity to eat indoors will be enough to help troubled restaurants stay economically afloat.
“I know we’ll be fine, but 25% for a lot of smaller restaurants won’t reduce the bill, not when you have to pay for those New York commercial real estate,” Tren’ness Woods-Black said Monday to the vice president communications from Sylvia’s, to Maria Bartiromo, of FOX Business.
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The new law, sponsored by Staten Island Council member Joe Borelli, hopes to give restaurants a little more assistance.
Previously, restaurants were not allowed to add any additional charges to compensate for coronavirus losses, “even if this surcharge is clearly revealed,” the New York Council website said.
Now, restaurants have the option to include the 10% charge, effective immediately.
“The city’s restaurant and hospitality industry has been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, with many barely able to survive by eating outdoors or taking away,” a council press release said. “Even when the indoor dining room is resumed, restaurants will continue to operate below capacity and will need the ability to charge a reasonable dining fee to stay afloat.”
According to NBC New York, the bill only allows small restaurants to add the recovery charge to their customers’ bills, which do not include “strollers, brackets, vehicles or large chains.”
Eligible restaurants should not include the fee, the city council said in a statement.
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The COVID-19 attendance bill will only last “up to 90 days after the full indoor dining room is once again allowed.”
After this time, restaurants will no longer be able to charge customers an additional 10%.
“This bill will give restaurants the freedom they need to increase revenue to help quickly cover full labor and compliance costs and keep them in business,” Borelli said in a statement.
“New York City restaurants have been crushed by the massive rise in costs over the past five years and their options to increase revenue have shrunk,” Borelli added. “This new policy comes as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on our city, but I intend to make this change permanent.”
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