What Should NYC Business Owners Know About Covid-19?

New York City can be a difficult place to do business already. There are taxes and regulations to adhere to, and in a densely packed city, there are safety concerns such as the risks construction workers face daily in the city as they work on massive developments.

New York isn’t for the faint of heart under any circumstances, but that may be no more obvious than right now with the Covid-19 outbreak. Currently, New York City is facing the biggest outbreak in the U.S. and one of the biggest in the world, and it’s impacting not just public health but also businesses.

Chairs are stacked in a Starbucks coffee shop that remained open for customers purchasing for take-away, Monday, March 16, 2020, in New York. New York leaders took a series of unprecedented steps Sunday to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including canceling schools and extinguishing most nightlife in New York City. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

With shelter-in-place orders that have been going on for weeks already, many business owners in New York are struggling to know what’s next.

While no one has all the answers, the following are some things to know.

Essential vs. Non-Essential

In New York, if you aren’t an essential business, you’ve been ordered to close. The same is true in neighboring Connecticut and New Jersey.

Under Governor Cuomo’s executive order, all businesses and nonprofits were ordered to close by 8 p.m. on March 22. They were also ordered to reduce all in-person work at business locations by 100%.

There are 12 businesses or areas of business that are considered essential. For businesses that operate both essential and non-essential fields, only the essential lines can still operate.

Essential businesses and workers include those in healthcare, essential infrastructure, manufacturing, essential retail like farmer’s markets, pharmacies and hardware stores, and essential services such as laundromats and shipping services. Financial institutions and homeless shelters are essential and vendors that offer certain services like technology support and child care programs.

Restaurants can stay open currently, but only for take-out and delivery.

Personal care businesses like nail salons and hair salons have to close temporarily.

What Can You Do If Your Business Is Suffering Financially?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Economic Injury Disaster Loans are going to be made available to businesses affected by the coronavirus. The loans would let some businesses apply for SBA loans at low interest rates.

In New York state, there are two loan programs available through the SBA’s programs.

These are the SSBA Paycheck Protection Program and the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

With the Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, there are loans being provided of up to $10 million to help small businesses cover the costs of paying workers, paying the interest on mortgages, and covering things like medical and sick leave.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans provide low-interest loans of up to $2 million for businesses experiencing temporary loss of revenue because of Covid-19.

NYC Employee Retention Grant Program

At the start of March, Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced the city would offer relief programs for small businesses seeing a reduction in revenue due to Covid-19.

The city created the NYC Employee Retention Grant Program. Under this program, businesses with fewer than five employees can apply for a grant to cover 40% of payroll costs for two months, as a way to keep employees.

Another program through the city is the NYC Small Business Continuity Loan Fund. This program is for businesses with fewer than 100 employees who saw sales decline. The program makes available zero-interest loans to help with business continuity, although with the current situation, these programs are being wound down in favor of other programs, such as what the federal government is offering.

Suspension of Payments

The New York State Department of Financial Services enacted an emergency order on March 24, dictating that all financial institutions that are state-regulated offer forbearance on mortgage payments for 90 days. This is for people affected by Covid-19.

However, under this emergency rule, commercial mortgages and other types of loans aren’t covered.

The emergency rule is in effect as long as Governor Cuomo’s executive order is in place.

Based on the directive, there shouldn’t be any fees associated with online payment for 90 days. Late payments shouldn’t be reported to credit agencies.

There can be no evictions or foreclosure’s during this time, and the governor has also asked public utility companies to suspend shutting offer service during this time.

It’s a difficult time in New York City and around the nation, to say the least, but business owners do have some options available to them if they’re struggling right now.

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