By any number of estimates, up to half of our favorite eateries and watering holes are expected to shutter soon. With months of rent still due, a shortfall in revenue and winter cutting into the popularity of outdoor dining, local establishments face tough odds to stay open.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to shut down indoor dining on Monday did not help. With COVID-19 positivity rates and daily hospitalization admissions on the rise in New York City, the governor was faced with a tough decision, but ultimately made the right call.
Studies have shown that private indoor gatherings and places where people cannot socially distance and keep their masks on, such as restaurants, are primarily driving the new wave of coronavirus.
With the city’s COVID rates trending in the wrong direction, Cuomo followed the data, as well as updated CDC guidance, by suspending indoor dining.
But if the government can decide to put safety first by making this move, it can and must take immediate actions on every level to ensure restaurant owners and workers survive this latest shutdown.
Andrew Rigie, who heads the NYC Hospitality Alliance, offered some great ideas and legislation that must be implemented right away.
In addition to passing a federal stimulus package that includes assistance for businesses and employees, Congress must pass the RESTAURANTS Act to create a $120 billion stabilization grant.
Our leaders in Albany must extend and strengthen the eviction moratorium through 2021, and ensure workers who go on unemployment get their benefits in a timely manner.
City Hall must do its part by permanently capping predatory third-party delivery fees that have cost too many restaurants precious revenue.
Looking forward to 2021, all mayoral candidates should have a robust and comprehensive plan to help small businesses recover from the pandemic.
Whoever takes over in Gracie Mansion needs to hit the ground running and implement effective strategies to assist struggling bars, restaurants and other businesses.
Hopefully by then the COVID-19 pandemic will be behind us, and we will look ahead to making our favorite establishments thrive.