Check out our regularly updated roundup of resources for small businesses navigating the coronavirus pandemic!
LAST UPDATE: 9-16-20
Federal, State + City Operations
- According to a NYS mandate, all bars and restaurants must provide, and their employees must wear, a face covering when in direct contact with customers or members of the public, except where doing so would inhibit or otherwise impair the employee’s health. Bars and restaurants can adopt a policy that prohibits customers from entering your restaurant or being served without a face covering. More about face covering requirements for restaurants and other essential businesses can be found here. If you need masks for your employees, email FAB FULTON at email@example.com
- The State announced an extension of the Eviction Moratorium for residential and commercial tenants facing COVID-19 related hardship for an additional 60 days through August 20. They have also banned late payment fees for missed payments during the moratorium and will allow renters facing hardship due to COVID-19 to use their security deposits to pay rent.
- City Council passed a few temporary measures to help the beleaguered NYC restaurant industry, including a cap on fees that can be charged by third party delivery services, and a waiver of sidewalk licensing fees. A roundup is below; read more here.
- Delivery app fees are now prohibited from charging restaurants fees in excess of 20%. This breaks down to 15% for delivery and 5% for the actual order. This goes into effect immediately and will remain in place for 90 days following the end of the state of emergency.
- Delivery apps are now prohibited from charging restaurants for phone calls that do not result in a food order, with fines of up to $1,000 for violating this rule. This has also gone into effect and will remain in place for 90 days following the end of the state of emergency.
- Sidewalk café fees will be waived through February 28, 2021.
- The existing commercial tenant harassment bill has been amended to include tenants who have been impacted by COVID-19. This bill would make threatening a commercial tenant based on their status as a COVID-19 impacted business or person a form of harassment punishable by a civil penalty of $10,000 to $50,000.
- City Council passed a bill that temporarily prohibits the enforcement of personal liability provisions in commercial leases or rental agreements involving COVID-19 impacted tenants. This applies to businesses that were impacted by mandated closures and service limitations in the Governor’s Executive Orders. Threatening to or attempting to enforce such a provision would also be considered a form of harassment. This bill covers:
- businesses that were required to stop serving food or beverages on-premises (restaurants and bars);
- businesses that were required to cease operations altogether (gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters);
- retail businesses that were required to close and/or subject to in-person restrictions; and
- businesses that were required to close to the public (barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors and related personal care services).
- Governor Cuomo signed an executive order empowering business owners to deny service to those not wearing facial coverings.
- Questions about the Phases of Reopening NYC? In addition to the info below, the city now has a hotline for reopening questions: 888-727-4692.
- Phase 1 – happening now. For retail who can provide limited curbside service or in-store pickup or drop off. (Also included in this phase, but not in our area: hunting, fishing, agriculture, manufacturing, construction and wholesale trade.) See the types of businesses and guidelines here.
- Phase 2 – began Mon., June 22. See guidelines here for office-based businesses, real estate, all retail businesses, commercial non-residential buildings and their management activities, hair salons and barbershops (click here for specific guide), repair and cleaning services, and outdoor seating for restaurants. (Also included in this phase, but not in our area: vehicle sales, leases and rentals, and retail rentals.)
- Phase 3 – began Mon., July 6. For personal care businesses, including tattoo and piercing facilities, nail specialty, massage therapy, spas, waxing and tanning services, cosmetology, and any appearance enhancement practitioners; read the guidelines here. This phase also includes the reopening of food service establishments with indoor seating space. Read the guidelines here.
- Phase 4 – Mon., July 20. Zoos and botanical gardens can open, reopening limited to a third of the sites’ usual visitor capacity. Some TV production can start up again along with higher education activities. Professional sports will resume without fans. Phase 4 will not include indoor activity in malls, restaurants or cultural institutions at this point.
- There are Statewide Guidelines for businesses that include: dentistry, child care and day camps, religious and funeral services, and public transportation. Get those details here. No decision has yet been made on when to reopen malls, movie theaters and gyms.
- In his press conference on 6/14/20, Gov. Cuomo expressed the Phase 1 failures happening all over, where his office has received 25,000 complaints of reopening violations. He made clear his position on the following:
- Bars or restaurants that violate the law can lose their liquor license.
- People with open containers in the street can be fined.
- Police and protesters not wearing masks can be fined.
- Local government must enforce the law.
- Governor Cuomo signed a new executive order making restaurants and bars responsible for enforcing local alcohol regulations and social-distancing measures for up to 100 feet around their establishments.
- Guidelines were released from NYC DOT for Open Restaurants: Temporary Outdoor Dining Seating to Allow Social Distancing During COVID-19 Recovery. Get details and apply here. Key points:
- If your location already has backyard or patio space, you can begin to use this, following the state guidelines for health and safety (6 ft spacing, etc.)
- If you already have a permit for sidewalk seating, you can use it without waiting to hear back from the application process; just adhere to the health and safety guidelines (6 ft spacing, etc.).
- This application process is not for plazas or park space
- The permissions granted through the Open Seating program for sidewalks, if administered to you, expire in October; the curbside seating expires on Labor Day.
- Businesses approved for sidewalk/curbside seating must post their approved application in the business window or somewhere else visible to the public.
- Businesses should also have their Business Safety Plan on hand, ready to show any city/state official upon request. Need to complete yours? Access it here; print and fill it out.
- Businesses with approved Roadway Seating should receive an email from DOT with No Parking signage to post in their spots where seating will be set up.
- Businesses can use adjacent storefront frontage for seating as long as they have a lease in place with the property owner and extension of DOHMH Food Service Establishment and SLA License.
- All businesses reopening MUST complete a Business Safety Plan (and yes this is a repeat — it’s important)! Access it online, print it, and fill it out. Keep it in your business at all times of operation. Find it here.
- All businesses MUST read and affirm (sign) the reopening guidelines as noted by the State. Find your industry and read, print and sign your guidelines here.
- Privately run child care centers in New York City can reopen as early as Monday, July 13. See guidelines here.
- There have been a number of violations issued to restaurants doing outdoor dining. Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has compiled a list of rules you should follow to avoid receiving fines:
- Provide Safety Plan on site. Do you have yours? Use this template.
- Have signage up to remind use of PPE, social distancing measures & cleaning/disinfecting. Need PPE? Contact your local BID or tell the Chamber via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Provide replacement PPE to employees
- Conduct health screening process for employees
- Require all employees to wear face coverings
- Install physical markings to indicate 6 feet distancing
- Bathrooms must have soap and paper towels OR hand sanitizer
- Create a designated pickup and deliveries area
- Keep a daily log of cleanings
- Create an outdoor streetside barrier that is minimum 18” wide. See the latest criteria and barriers guidelines here.
- In case you missed it, there was an update to the dates for the Outdoor Dining program. Roadway seating will last through September 8, 2020. Sidewalk seating will last through October 31, 2020. Read more NYC DOT updates here.
- There are new regulations to ensure compliance with state social distancing and face covering orders that now prohibit restaurants from serving alcohol to customers who do not also buy food, both to-go and seated outside restaurants and bars. (FYI, potato chips, pretzels, peanuts, etc. do not count. According to the SLA, “a tavern license’s minimum food requirement is soups, sandwiches and the like. Any sale made pursuant to the guidance must include such an item.”) And seats are now a must for those consuming what they have ordered. No more standing and lingering with drink in hand.
As part of the ‘Three Strikes and You’re Closed’ initiative, any establishment that receives three violations will be closed for business. Egregious violations can result in immediate loss of liquor license or closure before a third strike. Read more here.
- Need equipment for your Open Restaurant set up? Check out the Directory of Equipment Rentals for Safe Outdoor Dining to find materials for rent or purchase! Learn more here.
- Citing it as a “tremendous success,” Mayor De Blasio announced that the Open Restaurants program will be back next year, tentatively starting June 1! During a press conference in early August, the mayor said the program has supported approximately 80,000 jobs within the industry. This year’s outdoor dining program is currently scheduled to end on October 31, although that deadline may be extended depending on the weather, he said. The mayor did not, however, provide an update on the status of indoor dining in the city.
UPDATE: To-Go/Delivery of Alcohol and Outdoor Expansion of Licensed Premises has been EXTENDED by the NY State Liquor Authority to September 4, 2020. For more information and guidance on To-Go & Delivery, please visit the SLA site here.
The Mayor announced the launch of MEND NYC, a program to provide mediation to New Yorkers and hospitality businesses across the city who are in disputes over quality-of-life issues. This is a free, innovative alternative that can bring lasting solutions to longstanding local issues that have been laid bare by the COVID-19 crisis, which has caused an increase in complaints to 311. Learn more here.
Museums and indoor cultural institutions can reopen starting Aug. 24, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Considered “low-risk” spaces, they operate at 25 percent maximum occupancy, time ticketed and staggered entry and require face coverings, he said. Guidance is forthcoming regarding gyms and fitness centers.
- Although gyms and fitness centers in New York State were given Aug. 24 as their opening date, NYC has targeted Sep. 2 for a return to exercise facilities. Protocols and guidelines will include operation at 33% of capacity, masks required at all times, HVAC ventilation systems must be in place, and local government must complete inspections and have final say on indoor workout classes. Complete list of guidelines is available here.
- Small businesses need rent relief! The Small Business Recovery Lease program, proposed by Councilmembers Brad Lander and Keith Powers, Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, would encourage landlords to renegotiate leases and offer long-term, affordable rents to small businesses as they struggle to recover from this crisis. Sign to support Small Business Recovery Leases and share your story, here.
- The cap on exorbitant delivery fees charged by third party apps has been extended until after we have returned to full indoor dining, thanks to the NYC City Council.
- New York City restaurants will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining areas at 25% capacity beginning Sept. 30, Gov. Cuomo announced. Strict requirements include temperature checks at the door, one party of each group must leave contact information for contact tracers, no bar service, masks must be worn unless seated at a table to eat, tables must be six feet apart, and restaurants must close by midnight. See the State guidelines here.
Grants + Loans
- Looking for grants? Check out this round-up (and apply!) from iFundWomen.com
- Another source of grants for female-founded small businesses in need! The next My Founder Story $500 grant winner will be announced on September 1; apply here.
- Microlender Kiva has expanded their U.S. loan program for small businesses. In addition to offering 0% interest, no-fee loans, they’re implementing a 6-month grace period, a $15,000 loan maximum and expanded eligibility. Apply at Kiva.
- Women entrepreneurs! Spanx founder Sara Blakely has started the Red Backpack Fund with $5 million to assist female business owners in the wake of the covid-19 crisis. Global Giving will oversee the fund distribution and has been fielding applications for the $5,000 grants; the next round is coming up for August 3-10, sign up for deadline notifications.
Seeking to get forgiveness of your PPP loan? There is now improved guidance on calculation methods, definitions of forgivable expenses and the documents that must be submitted with the forgiveness request. Learn more here.
Applications for the New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF) are now open. The fund is a loan program that will make loans of up to $100,000 to small businesses, nonprofits and small landlords impacted by COVID-19. Get all details on the application process here.
- Magic Johnson has partnered with MBE Capital Partners to provide loans for minority and women owned businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Apply here.
- Instagram for Business (Facebook) announced it is investing $100 million in Black-owned small businesses, Black creators and non-profits that serve the Black community in the US. That includes $75 million in grants to support Black-owned businesses and nonprofits that serve the Black community and $25 million in support of Black content creators. More details on how to apply here.
- In partnership with One Hundred Black Men of New York City, Hennessy Unfinished Business is offering grant opportunities and other small business assistance and development programs for Black-owned businesses that have been in existence for at least 2 years. More info here.
- Inspire360’s FitPro Relief Fund is offering $1,000 grants to fitness professionals affected by COVID-19. Apply now.
- Thanks to a significant grant from Lowes, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) will provide the emergency assistance that small businesses desperately need to stay afloat. The next round is a short window, opening August 18; apply through August 23. Details here.
To help the city’s small businesses after the impact of COVID-19, Citizens Committee has launched the Neighborhood Business Grants program. Grants of between $5,000 to $10,000 will fill gaps in funding by prioritizing businesses owned by people of color and immigrants. Grants may be made to barber shops, restaurants, food carts, vegetable stands, and other small businesses. Unlike many financial opportunities currently available to small businesses, this program will provide grants rather than loans. The application is intended to be accessible and short, and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com APPLY TODAY using this link here.
Apply for grants up to $50,000 to support business growth, including $10,000 emergency COVID-19 Business for All Grants to help small businesses in crisis. Grants are awarded on a rolling basis. General Business for All Grant applications are due September 25, 2020 at 12:00 am PT. Sign up here.
GRANT OPENING! Announcing the A.R.T./New York Relief Fund for NYC Small Theaters. Applicants DO NOT need to be members of A.R.T./New York to apply for the relief fund. APPLY TODAY, here.
Legal + Financial Assistance
- The Small Business Legal Relief Alliance (SBLRA) serves small businesses, nonprofits and self-employed individuals in with free consultations in practice areas including: loan & grant, tax, commercial lease, contracts, employment, insurance, and intellectual property, among others. Click to request a consultation.
- Free legal assistance for small businesses via City Bar Justice Center, here.
NYC Small Business Services (SBS) Resources
- SBS has compiled a number of resources for businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Access assistance here.
- The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) offers free business courses to guide NYC entrepreneurs through each step to start, operate, and grow a business. See and sign up for all their FREE workshops and seminars (now online), here.
- Questions about reopening? NYC SBS now has a hotline: 888-727-4692.
Marketing + Business Operations
- FAB FULTON delis, bodegas and small grocery stores: register your business on the My Bodega Online app for free; let your customers order from you online! Their orders can be ready for pickup for a fast, contactless experience. Fill out the short form here.
- Streetsense has pulled together a Pandemic Relaunch Toolkit for Restaurants + Bars, full of great information; add your email address and download it here.
- Spectrum is providing small businesses with resources to help your business rebound. Access FREE videos you can make on your own and other advertising resources here.
- Potential customers will now be able to browse and buy products directly from a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile. Learn more about how to turn your profile into a storefront here.
- If you need to order PPE in bulk, check here. Get a 3% discount if you use the code at checkout: NYCSAVE
- Thanks to the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the NYC Consumer and Worker Protection Department, FAB FULTON has more face coverings to distribute to employers for their staff. If you would like masks, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or reach out on one of our social media pages to request. We’ll arrange for either a pick-up or drop-off.
- LOG-ON Printing offers lots of solutions for your re-opening, to keep your employees and customers safe. For a limited time, FAB FULTON businesses can get 20% off any plexiglass shields, wall vinyl, window vinyl, floor vinyl, pop-up banners or posters and 10% off any promotional safety items (masks, hand sanitizer, touchless door openers, etc). Have a look at their Reopening Capabilities Guide here, and contact Jonathan Korn (email@example.com) with any questions about products or orders.
- The NYC BID Association has created a proposal for elected officials to act and save our small businesses. Read the full nine point plan here.
- The NYC BID Association is teaming up with OATH and NYC Department of Small Business Services to provide resources to businesses who receive violations during COVID19. The Help Center can answer information related to how to correct violating conditions, and other queries, seen here. Email them at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 436-0845.
- You can protect yourself and others from COVID-19. To prevent further widespread community transmission, use and share these tips from NYC Health + Hospitals on what do to stop the spread of Coronavirus, including prevention, symptoms, and when to get tested. Also, for businesses there are links to download posters and guidance sheets for customers and employees alike. And be sure to check out the list of other helpful government resources in areas of education, transportation and more. Read more here.
- Text COVID to 692-692 to receive regular updates via text message from NYC Health (text COVIDESP to 692-692 for Spanish)
- The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is supporting small businesses by providing local business resources such as loan assistance, sales tax measures, and other relief information. Download The Brooklyn App to tune into their ‘Brooklyn’s Small Business Hotline’ Channel, so your business can communicate with the Chamber seamlessly. Learn more here.
- Women business owners: the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce is committed to helping small businesses who are suffering substantial economic hardships as a result of the Coronavirus. Complete this form for assistance.