Mayor signs small business COVID-19 relief bills
by Benjamin Fang
Jun 03, 2020 | 1074 views | 0 0 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A package of bills intended to provide relief to small businesses during the coronavirus crisis is now officially law.

Last Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed seven pieces of legislation to help commercial tenants, restaurants and other businesses during the pandemic. The City Council passed the legislation last month.

“New Yorkers have been fighting every day to flatten the curve and get through this pandemic together,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Now, it’s time for us to give back to them.”

The first bill prohibits third-party food delivery services like Seamless and GrubHub from charging restaurants a fee for telephone orders that do not result in a transaction. The law carries a $500 penalty per violation.

The next legislation caps fees that the same third-party delivery companies can charge restaurants for the duration of a declared emergency and the following 90 days at 15 percent per order for delivery and 5 percent per order for other charges. Restaurants have previously reported delivery fees up to 30 percent of the total order.

Councilman Francisco Moya, who sponsored that bill, said in a statement that capping third-party fees would level the playing field for mom-and-pop restaurants.

“Billion-dollar tech companies are bleeding New York City’s mom-and-pop restaurants dry,” he said. “Every day we hear of new restaurants who, facing little businesses and merciless fees from third-party food delivery apps, are left with no other option but to shut their doors permanently.

“This is a particular tragedy in immigrant communities like mine,” Moya added, “where restaurants are integral to our neighborhood’s character and a tether to our culture.”

Another new law suspends the collection of indoor sidewalk cafe fees from restaurants through February 2021, and for outdoor sidewalk cafes through the duration of the emergency. The city has already stopped collecting those fees during the crisis, officials said.

The other bills designate threatening a commercial tenant based on its COVID-19 status a form of harassment, protects commercial tenants’ personal assets for coronavirus-impacted business owners, and expands the definition of tenant harassment to shield tenants from threats based on status as an essential worker.

Lastly, the package includes legislation to suspend renewal requirements for licenses and permits from city agencies during an emergency and 45 days after.

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement that there have been many difficult days for the city’s restaurants and bars since March 15, but the new laws extend “a glimmer of hope” to thousands of them across the city.

“We’ll continue to fight for the future of the New York City restaurant and nightlife industry,” Rigie said, “which must be at the core of our city’s economic and social recovery.”
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