Could This New Plan to Reopen NYC Work Everywhere?

A 10% surcharge aims to soften the pandemic's blow.

American leaders are revising their COVID-19 opening (and re-opening) plans. Meanwhile, throngs of eateries are closing up shop for good — especially in tourist-centric locales like New York City. A new bill approved by the city council aims to help salvage the struggling sector as the city that never sleeps braces for cold weather and a possible resurgence in coronavirus cases.

Though restaurants have long had a reputation for marking up prices on the menu, those surcharges have not been enough to keep many restaurants in business. The “COVID-19 Recovery Charge” bill will temporarily allow restaurants to add a charge of up to 10% of a customer’s total bill, ABC7 NY reported.

“Now that they are stretched to the max, New York’s restaurants can now join every other city in the country and transparently ask their customers to pay into their recovery, without having to hide costs into their pricing,” said Councilman Joe Borelli, the bill’s prime sponsor, in his argument for the bill. “This is an option the restaurant industry long sought to deal with rising costs.” Foodservice establishments must clearly disclose the surcharge on both its menu and on the customer’s bill, and can be enacted until 90 days after full indoor dining can resume.

Reception of the bill has been mixed, with some restaurateurs feeling that an optional surcharge is the wrong way to help get their businesses back on their feet.,Workers’ rights advocate Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage, told the NY Daily News that she was concerned “a surcharge without a minimum wage will cut into workers’ tips.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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