The diners in New York City might soon witness a coronavirus or COVID-19 surcharge on the bills as the restaurants continue to struggle due to the deadly pandemic. The New York City Council passed a bill on Wednesday 46-2 that is going to allow the restaurants to charge as much as 10 percent on the customers fining indoors or outdoors to assist in covering the COVID-19 expenses.
Named as the 'COVID-19 Recovery Charge', the surcharge does not add to the overall tax of the bill and also is not applied on delivery or takeout. A restaurant putting the surcharge is free to use the new funds in whatever way it likes, but it must make it clear that it is not a substitute for a tip or gratuity for the waitstaff.
The Republican City Councilman Joseph Borelli, the prime sponsor of the bill said that the latest option will assist the owners who do not want to go through the trouble of increasing the prices on the menus, as reported by CNN. "New York was actually the only city that we knew of that actually had a ban, a 45-year-old law made when the Department of Consumer Affairs essentially reorganized, and it prevented restaurants, the only industry in New York City, from applying a surcharge," he told CNN.
"If you go to a hair salon, a gas station, or any other business in the city of New York, the owner is allowed to charge you a surcharge for basically whatever they want," Borelli said. "They obviously have to disclose it and you have to agree to pay it, but they're allowed to. It's only restaurants that are banned from this," he added.
After the bill is signed, th eateries will be able to tack on the surcharge up to 90 days after the full indoor dining gets restored and there is no longer a statewide disaster emergency declared for the novel virus. Mayor Bill de Blasio supported the bill but there are not details about when he will sign it. A spokesperson of the mayor did not give any immediate response.
"We will support the bill as long as there is a guarantee that restaurant workers will at least earn similar wages before the pandemic," Anthony Advincula, spokesman for the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which is a non-profit advocating for better wages and working conditions for the workers at restaurants.
Advincula added that proper enforcement is required and said that he hopes the customers are going to realize the surcharge does not go directly to the workers by itself. Restaurants can face a civil penalty between $50 and $350 for not working according to the rules, as per the bill. The deadly novel virus outbreak has created a major stir around the world in recent times infecting more than 30.7 million people globally and claiming the lives of over 956,000 people worldwide in more than 170 countries.