Restaurants and other food and drink businesses have been highly critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his state agencies since the Covid-19 pandemic hit New York in March.
They’ve criticized the state’s restaurant shutdowns and restrictions, ridiculed rules about serving food with drinks, blasted regulations on live music, and, most recently, challenged the fairness and logic of placing some restaurants and not others in restrictive micro cluster zones.
Some critics claim the state has done “nothing” to help restaurants during the pandemic.
Yet the state has offered programs and modified or relaxed some rules in an attempt to offer some aid to the dining industry struggling with the pandemic and the restrictions.
Many people may still argue they aren’t enough. Some estimates predict one in six restaurants nationwide will close due to Covid. In Central New York, more than 20 have already closed permanently, and many more are shut down temporarily with hopes to reopen in the future. Those numbers may grow.
Here’s a look at some of the state’s initiatives to help the dining industry:
New York Bar / Restaurant Recovery Fund
Details: This is a $3 million program from the Empire State Development office, announced this week. It provides up to $5,000 in grants to eligible restaurants and bars to reimburse expenses related to meeting social distancing requirements, expanding takeout, adding or expanding outdoor seating and related projects. Eligibility requirements include having had less than $3 million in revenues in 2019. Franchises are not eligible.
New York Forward Loan Fund
Details: Launched in September, this a $100 million loan program aimed at small businesses (and nonprofits) affected by the pandemic, including restaurants and bars. To apply, businesses must have fewer than 20 employees. The loans provide “working capital” for business struggling to get credit through banks, etc. Eligible businesses cannot have received federal Payroll Protection Program aid of more than $50,000. The loans are up to the lesser of $100,000 or the average monthly revenues in any 3-month period from 2019 or first quarter of 2020. The term is five years.
Here are other state initiative or actions intended to assist restaurants and bars (and often, other businesses, too).
Pause in sales tax for Orange Zone restaurants
Details: In December, Cuomo signed an executive order that gives restaurants in parts of New York that are banned from indoor dining three extra months to pay their sales taxes.
More info: The sales tax pause is administered through the State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Moratorium on commercial evictions and foreclosures
Details: Cuomo initially signed an executive order suspending evictions and foreclosures for businesses affected by Covid-19 in March. It has been extended several times, most recently in December. The moratorium now runs through Jan. 31. More info.
Cocktails to go
Details: In March, Cuomo issued an executive order allowing bars and restaurants to offer to-go sales of wine and cocktails (in addition to beer, which was already allowed). The goal was to give restaurants an additional way to earn revenues. It has been extended several times. It currently runs through Jan. 29. More info.
Liquor license fees
Details: The State Liquor Authority has several times extended the deadline for bars and restaurants to pay the fees for renewing their liquors licenses. The most recent extension runs through Jan. 31. More info.
Waiver to return unsold alcoholic beverages
Details: The State Liquor Authority agreed to waive a pre-Covid rule that prohibits bars and restaurants from returning unsold alcoholic beverages to wholesalers and manufacturers. The intent was to allow restaurants affected by Covid to seek a credit for returning surplus inventory. Wholesalers and manufacturers, however, are not required to agree to the return/credit. More info.
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