NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Dining out in New York City is getting more expensive as lawmakers step in to help restaurants financially during these trying times.
The City Council has approved a measure that would allow restaurants to add a 10% COVID-19 recovery surcharge to every bill.
"The surcharge is a way to help recover and purchase PPE for their employees, to help build and afford these outdoor dining installations and all these other expenses," said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance. "There are so many expenses these business owners have and so much debt that is piling up."
The additional charge would be allowed until 90 days after indoor dining is fully reinstated.
City Coucil Speaker Corey Johnson said the goal of the surcharge is to help restaurants stay afloat.
"When the cold weather comes, and if they're not at 100% capacity, which I doubt they'll be at, we need to think about a variety of ways to support them," Johnson said.
Rigie said there isn't one way to save restaurants, but this helps.
"It's not going to be the savior, but it definitely can help these places," Rigie said. "Hopefully we can help some of these restaurants stay in business so they can continue to employ people and those people working at those restaurants can have a job."
That was a concern for the two council members who voted against the surcharge, saying low wage workers may not receive as many tips as a result.
Rigie's argument is you can't have a wage without a job.
The extra charge would have to be clearly disclosed on the menu and bill. The surcharge is optional and restaurants can charge 10% or less.
Asked whether the surcharge might deter people from dining out, Rigie said, "We're giving them the flexibility and if customers balk at it, then that business is going to have to make a business decision whether or not they should apply it or not."
Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the legislation.