New York restaurants may soon add Covid-19 supplement to customer bills

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New York City Council passed a bill Wednesday 46-2 that would allow restaurants to charge up to 10% on patrons who eat inside or out to help cover Covid-related expenses. 19.

Called the “COVID-19 collection fee,” the surcharge does not add to the overall tax on the invoice, nor does it apply to delivery or take-out orders. A restaurant applying the supplement is free to use the new funds as it sees fit, but must also clarify that the supplement is not a substitute for a tip or a tip for servers.

Republican City Councilor Joseph Borelli, the bill’s main sponsor, told CNN that the new option will help homeowners who don’t want to bother raising their menu prices.

“New York was actually the only city we knew of that made it a ban, a 45-year-old law passed during the Consumer Department’s reorganization, which barred restaurants, New York’s only area, from apply a supplement, ”he explained.

“If you go to a hair salon, gas station, or any other business in New York City, the owner is allowed to charge you extra for pretty much anything they want,” Borelli said. “They obviously have to disclose it and you have to agree to pay it, but they are allowed to do so. It is only the restaurants that are prohibited. “Once the bill is signed, restaurants would be able to adjust the supplement for up to 90 days after full catering of meals inside and there is no longer a disaster-wide emergency. state declared for the virus.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is reportedly supporting the bill passed on Wednesday, although there are no details yet on when he will sign it.

A spokesperson for the mayor did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

“We will support the bill as long as there is a guarantee that restaurant workers will earn at least similar wages before the pandemic,” said Anthony Advincula, spokesperson for Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a non-profit organization. nonprofit that advocates higher wages and better working conditions. for restaurateurs.

Advincula further stressed that proper enforcement is needed and said it hopes customers will realize that the surcharge does not go directly to workers per se.

Restaurants could face a civil penalty between $ 50 and $ 350 for breaking the rules, according to the bill.

Push earlier for an extra in 2018

Restaurateurs have pushed de Blasio for the option of adding supplements even before the pandemic.

In April 2018, more than 200 restaurants signed an open letter to de Blasio, pleading for the city to allow them to implement an optional supplement, which is already permitted across New York state.

Borelli also introduced a similar bill in 2018 that would allow up to a 5% surcharge, and says he hopes the optional surcharge will remain after the pandemic subsides.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this month that indoor dining could resume on September 30 with strict restrictions, including temperature checks, mandatory collection of contact information for contact tracing purposes and a capacity limit of 25%.

Nearly 64% of New York State restaurants could close, survey finds

Despite the city’s adoption for outdoor dining, the industry is still in crisis.

According to a survey by the New York State Restaurant Association of 1,000 restaurants across the state, nearly 64% of owners said they could close their stores by the end of the year without additional financial assistance .

For Philippe Massoud, CEO and chief executive officer of ilili, based in Flatiron District, the optional surcharge would allow his company not to “die on the operating table”.

A box of gloves that originally cost between $ 26 and $ 32 now costs around $ 160, not to mention masks that add an additional $ 1,500 to $ 1,800 every four to six weeks, he said.

“It’s not a source of money for me, at least in the culture of our company. We use it to deflect costs that we would not otherwise have, ”he continued.

Although customers are still too reluctant to eat indoors below the 25% capacity limit, Massoud said operating 50% on the line would give the restaurant a “high chance to fight.”

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing life again springing from the sidewalks of New York. I think eating out creates a certain sense of normalcy and everything will be fine, ”he said, stressing that restaurants cannot stay. in business if clients follow appropriate social distancing and mask-wearing protocols.

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