87 pct of NYC restaurants, bars unable to pay full rent in August

By Xia Lin

NEW YORK, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Around 87 percent of the restaurants and bars in New York City (NYC) could not pay full rent in August, and 34 percent could not pay rent at all, a recent survey found.

This is another indicator of the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on The Big Apple's small businesses, according to the NYC Hospitality Alliance that conducted the survey of 450 restaurants, bars and nightlife venues between Aug. 25 and Sept. 11.

In July and June this year, 83 percent and 80 percent of the restaurants and bars in NYC could not pay full rent, the survey showed.

"Restaurants, bars and nightlife venues have been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic," Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, told local media.

"Even before the pandemic when operating at 100 percent occupancy, these small businesses were struggling to stay open. Now we're seeing widespread closures, approximately 150,000 industry workers are still out of their jobs, and the overwhelming majority of these remaining small businesses cannot afford to pay rent," he said.

"The hospitality industry is essential to New York's economic and social fabric, and to ensure the survival of these vital small businesses and jobs, we urgently need rent relief, an indefinite extension of outdoor dining, a roadmap for expanded indoor dining, covered business interruption insurance and immediate passage of the Restaurants Act by Congress," Rigie said.

The survey came at the height of outdoor dining. NYC restaurants are allowed to reopen indoor dining on Sept. 30 as long as they stay under 25 percent of maximum capacity and follow strict safety protocols.

Adding to the sadness of the NYC hospitality industry, Wednesday is the day when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced to reverse the reopening plan in 20 coronavirus hot spots in Brooklyn and Queens by closing all the schools and non-essential businesses in nine Zip Codes there.

However, following de Blasio's announcement, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo refused to close non-essential businesses in those Zip Codes while moving ahead the date to close schools in those areas.

The dispute between the governor and the mayor may prolong the NYC restaurant and bar owners' financial dire.

According to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. coronavirus death toll stood at 210,355 as of Tuesday noon, and New York remains one of the worst-hit states by the pandemic in the country.

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