Despite New Yorkers streaming out of the city because of COVID-19 and soaring crime rates, the City Council has decided to make residents pay more when they go to restaurants.
Under a new bill passed Wednesday by the City Council, New York restaurants will be allowed to add up to a 10% charge onto customers’ tab. The bill passed on a 46-2 vote.
“The fee won’t be mandatory, and it can be any amount up to 10% of a food and drink bill. Restaurants’ permission to charge the fee will expire 90 days after the state allows full occupancy of eateries,” the New York Daily News reported. “Restaurant bills will have to be explicit about the amount of the charge and its purpose. Food trucks and restaurants that are part of national chains with 15 or more outlets will not be allowed to charge the fee.”
Councilman Joe Borelli of Staten Island, the bill’s sponsor, said the new fee will help restaurateurs who have been forced to close their businesses for months because of COVID-19 to recover. “This bill fundamentally is about saving the restaurant industry,” the New York Post reported.
“We’re trying to give restaurants the option of adding a surcharge to let their customers know they need to raise a little bit more money to make their ends meet,” he said.
Restaurants in the city remain closed, but can reopen for indoor dining at 25% capacity on Sept. 30. If things go well, that would move to 50% capacity a month later.
Andrew Rigie of the NYC Hospitality Alliance told The Post that he supports the bill on behalf of restaurant owners.
“The passage of the COVID recovery bill will help struggling restaurants generate additional revenue to help pay for expenses like PPE for their employees, outdoor dining setups, rent, labor and other expenses to give them a fighting chance of survival,” Rigie said.
The Post reported last month that “the exodus that began at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, with many New Yorkers departing to their beach and country homes, has continued unabated as more leave for good, according to city moving companies overwhelmed by the avalanche of would-be expats.”
“People are fleeing the city in droves,” says Moon Salahie, owner of Elite Moving & Storing in Yonkers, who has been working nonstop since the city began Phase 1 of its reopening in June.
Meanwhile, crime is exploding in the city. The 2020 year-to-date total of shootings hit 540 shooting this week, far higher than last year at this time, when the city had seen 365 shootings, ABC-7 reported.
NYPD Chief of Department Terry Monahan said bail reform, the George Floyd protests and anger at police is causing the spike.
“If you listen to the city council, they want less policing. They want to defund the police, but as I look out there right now with the violence going on, it’s not a good sign. We need some clarity from the city council and from the communities we serve, exactly how they want to be policed,” Monahan said.
Related: Restaurant Adds 26% ‘COVID Fee’ To Bills Claiming Increase In Food Costs, Then Quickly Drops Surcharge