Ever since the spread of covid-19, many businesses have shut down temporarily as people were advised to quarantine at home. Businesses, such as restaurants, theaters, gyms, bars, museums, and more, have all suffered financially due to the pandemic. After ensuring the vaccine is available to the U.S. population, businesses are starting to reopen to the public. It is a relief to see the beginning of the end of the pandemic as the city strives to resume operation at a reduced capacity. The revival of NYC restaurants will surely aid the city in its post-pandemic recovery.
Unemployment rates have peaked since the last few decades due to the covid-19 crisis. “The city’s official unemployment rate rose to 12.9 percent in February, more than double the national rate, which was 6.2 percent in February and fell to 6 percent in March” (McGeehan). New York City’s unemployment rate increased to nearly double of the national average which means almost half a million people lost their jobs during the pandemic. “The city’s success is inextricably tied to the restaurants, hotels, museums, and shows that helped draw a record 67 tourists in 2019. That number plunged by two-thirds in 2020” (Rockerman). The tourism industry has unfortunately shut down for almost half a year. An estimate of tens of millions of tourists have stopped visiting the city which is a great part of its economy.
The recovery of New York City post-pandemic is very dependent on whether the government can revive jobs. As soon as the government can support businesses, the quicker the labor market recovery, the quicker the city’s economy can start running more smoothly again. Such businesses are quite crucial to the community, and not only because they attract many tourists and customers. Restaurant businesses also provide jobs, delicious food and a welcoming atmosphere for the neighborhood. Aiding the reopening of these businesses are crucial to the economic recovery of NYC.
On April 28, 2021, the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) launched Fair Share NYC. It is a program intended to help restaurants secure federal relief funds. The federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) helps provide non-taxable grants to restaurants who have been financially hurt the most due to the covid-19 pandemic. This program offers up to $5 million for individual restaurants and $10 million of grant funding for restaurant groups.
The government is striving to provide these funds because Mayor Bill de Blasio feels a need to support these restaurants and all that they offer for their communities. He said, “New York City’s restaurants have worked tirelessly to keep the lights on, keep their workers employed, and keep their neighborhoods vibrant. Now, it’s time to connect them to the support they deserve. We can’t afford to let local restaurants fall through the cracks, and I’m proud to give every establishment the resources to access federal assistance.” Restaurants have strived for months to continue business despite the ban on indoor dining. It would be a wise decision to recoup any loss of business, these restaurants having to adapt to pandemic restrictions.
J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives and Co-Chair of the Racial Inclusion and Equity Taskforce, believes that these NYC restaurants are vital for reviving our economy post-pandemic. He said, “Restaurants are a driving force in New York City’s economy, providing jobs and building careers for thousands of New Yorkers.”
Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, agrees with the importance of restaurant businesses in our economy. He said, “The restaurant industry is essential to New York City’s social and economic fabric but has faced unprecedented financial challenges as we navigated the health crisis. SBS will continue to serve on the frontline of recovery by helping connect our city’s restaurants to this federal grant.”
Anne del Castillo, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, vouches for the necessity of the restaurant industry. She said, “New York City can’t be the creative capital of the world without our restaurants. Restaurants are vital to our creative economy, serving as the pre-theater warm up, after show encore, or the main attraction that draws visitors from around the world to experience our unparalleled intersection of creativity and cuisine.”
Considering how crucial it is for restaurants to be revived for the recovery of our city, it is no wonder why the government has reached out to offer the restaurant industry grants to support their business. This is only the first step to reviving New York City’s economy to its former glory. However, these restaurant businesses will definitely ensure the steady recuperation of NYC.