In a press conference this morning in which Governor Cuomo issued the tightest shut-down measures yet, he announced that the State of New York would be expanding its 90-day moratorium on evictions to commercial tenants. After New York City took the step last week to stop eviction proceedings for 90 days, the State of New York on Monday halted residential eviction proceedings indefinitely. With this now expanded to commercial tenants for 90 days, there is a bit more hope for the city’s struggling small businesses and restaurants.
The Governor made the announcement after he further tightened workforce restrictions, calling for 100 percent of the non-essential workforce to remain at home. His first restriction earlier this week called for 50 percent to stay home, and yesterday he tightened it to 75. Today’s news comes after Mayor de Blasio has been calling for a “shelter-in-place” for New York City, which the Governor has strongly resisted, saying repeatedly “words matter” and that the term “shelter-in-place” actually refers to a protocol for an active-shooter situation.
On Monday, San Francisco imposed a “shelter-in-place” order that has extended to the entire state as of today. But these rules in California, much like those now in New York, are not being enforced by law enforcement on individuals, and people can still go outside for exercise and for essential services like groceries and pharmacies. Some of the other essential services that are exempt from the Governor’s mandate include shipping, internet providers, public transportation, and restaurant delivery.
As of Friday at 11:00am, New York State had a total of 7,102 positive COVID-19 cases, nearly 3,000 of which were new since Thursday. Of these cases, 4,408 are in New York City.
The commercial eviction moratorium will undoubtedly come as a relief to so many of the city’s small businesses. For example, cafe Alice’s Tea Cup sent an email to its customers yesterday announcing that they’d be temporarily closing their NYC shops and wrote, “We will be struggling in the months ahead to keep the leases on our three beloved locations and pay off an SBA loan we took out when we expanded last year.”
Businesses can also find some relief through the NYC Department of Small Business Services’ new assistance programs: “Businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decreases of 25 percent or more will be eligible for zero-interest loans of up to $75,000 to help mitigate losses in profit” caused by COVID-19. And businesses with fewer than five employees are eligible for “a grant to cover 40 percent of payroll costs for two months to help retain employees.”
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