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Schumer tells NYC restauranteurs to get in line for $28B in COVID-19 early relief

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (left), Crave Fishbar owner Brian Owens and NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie on April 25.
Photo by Mark Hallum

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer is telling New York City restaurants to get it while it’s hot! It, being $28 billion in COVID-19 relief through the American Rescue Act.

It could not be more timely, according to Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, who has been asking for just such support from all levels of government as the pandemic decimated the finances of the service industry across the board.

At Crave Fishbar in Midtown, Schumer said it would be first-come first-served in terms of getting the grant money through a portal on the Small Business Administration website.

“Within about two weeks you’ll be able to apply in a few weeks after that you should get some funds,” Schumer said. “So go on the website, start collecting the data you need to get ready to apply. Restaurant help is on the way to one of the most important parts of New York.”

According to Schumer, the $28 billion may be finite, but he is confident that with bipartisan support for the inclusion of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund in the stimulus that the money could be replenished if the COVID-19 pandemic continues on.

“We need to start getting rid of some of these restrictions that don’t make sense like prohibiting a customer from having a meal while sitting at a bar, or requiring someone to order food with a glass of wine. So there’s still a long road to recovery, but there’s reasons to be cautiously optimistic, but we need to get this Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants to the businesses right away,” rigie said.

Rigie believes indoor dining restrictions should be lifted even more as up to 44.1% of New Yorkers having now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state.

“If you’re in midtown Manhattan, and office buildings have less than 15% occupancy, it’s extraordinarily difficult to keep your doors open,” Rigie added. “Your customers are gone, if you rely heavily on tourists, when are the nearly 70 million annual tourists going to come back to New York City restaurants?”

Each restaurant could receive up to $5 million to pay for employee overhead, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance and supplies including cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment for staff serving patrons in the ongoing pandemic.

So far, indoor dining is only allowed within city limits at 50% capacity, something that has been in place since early March with the only easing of restrictions coming in the form of an expanded curfew on indoor and outdoor service from 11 p.m. to midnight.

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