Mandatory Vaccine Policy for Restaurants

This is always the time of year where restaurant and bar owners and all New Yorkers for that matter, confront the reality that the heart of winter in NYC is  a godforsaken slog. Pile on the pandemic and the inability to escape with travel or leisure and our city can become a black hole of gray and black.  Except when it snows and we are pulled out of the darkness and the city becomes quaint and pretty and even then, the respite lasts only as long as the snow is actually falling.  And when it’s over we get sucked back into the abyss as we salt and shovel and chip away and navigate the post-snow shitshow.

But New Yorkers are not wallowers.  We complain and we bitch but we don’t wallow.  We put our heads down and we grind it out every day and try to keep our heads above water while we make plans for the future.  Now is no different, it’s just harder.  Harder to accomplish things every day and harder to stay positive and harder to be optimistic. 

But we know our way through tough times and you can bet that  once the weather turns, and the jabs are up for grabs and both will happen sooner than you think, this city will come back fast.  There will be a frenzy to pick up good real estate at fair rents and you ought to have a plan because you are already in it and on the ground and you know best how to find a good deal.  The last thing you want is to lose your concept or your ideal space or your rmanagement deal because you weren’t being proactive and some carpetbagger or newbie or wily veteran scooped up your opportunity. Not after all this pain.

So start planning for your next project if you haven’t already.  Get a jump on the competition.  It looks like 25 Billion is coming from the Covid Stimulus plan.  The D’s in The House will pass their bill over the next 2 weeks and then it will go to the Senate and they have been supporting it.  So, if all goes well, it will be a month or so before we know for sure when and how much money the industry will be receiving and then probably late March, early April before the grants get distributed.  As of now, here’s how the legislation is stacking up so you can plan:

  • The $25 billion round of funding would be divided into government-funded grants with a maximum of $10 million per restaurant group or $5 million per individual restaurant location.
  • Eligible businesses include foodservice and drinking establishments like restaurants, bars, caterers, breweries, taprooms, and tasting rooms that are not part of an affiliated restaurant group with more than 20 locations. Participants cannot be publicly traded and there are limits on private equity firms. Participants also cannot currently be an applicant for the Shuttered Venues Operators grant program.
  • Grants can be spent on payroll and benefits up to $100,000 a year, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies (including PPE and cleaning products), food and beverages, supplier costs, operational expenses, and paid sick leave
  • The covered period is from Feb 15, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021.
  • The grants can be taken alongside the two rounds of PPP, EIDL, and the Employee Retention Tax Credits, though any PPP loans already received will be subtracted from the eligible grant total for any individual business.

I don’t think 25 Billion will be enough but we can hope that if the program is running well, they will add more money to the pot.  I also hope that the politicians don’t screw up the whole Cancun.


WEBBIE ALERT!

Mopping up and Moving On: Cleaning Up Covid  and Planning for Post-Pan

Tuesday, February 23rd at 11:00AM to 12:30PM

It’s time to get your house in order as we prepare for the big return of restaurants and bars in NYC.  We will discuss how to clean up your books and loans and safety protocols and what’s coming next in the world of NYC commercial real estate and the rent scene and more Landy issues of course.  

David Helbraun will moderate and panelists will include:

 – Beth Torin – Health and Safety Consultant and past Executive Director of the Food & Safety Division of the NYC Dept. of Health.

– Greg Scotto – Restaurant Industry accountant and lead PPP/ERC point person for Helbraun Levey clients.

– Cosmo Montemurro – Real Estate broker to the hospitality industry and Principal at Murro Realty.

 – Mayan Bouskila – Chair, HL Real Estate Group

– Maya Petrocelli – Chair, HL Litigation Group

We will discuss the following topics:

– PPP applications and forgiveness rules
– Landy and leases – workouts and 1932A
– Health and safety protocols
– Interacting with Government agencies
– NYC commercial rentals and the outlook for the next year
– Federal grant program

Please register here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ESgl1bfsRyOOmS2AI4HEpA


MANDATORY VACCINE POLICY FOR RESTAURANTS

As we wrote last week employers are able to implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy—however, before you do so, you must ensure that the policy follows all guidelines and is appropriately rolled out to your staff.  The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released guidance that allows employers to enforce a policy that requires its staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, there are certain exceptions that must be documented in a written policy that must be provided to all employees (and prospective hires).  To enforce a mandatory vaccination rule with a non-unionized workforce, the following two prerequisites must be in place: 

  1. the vaccine must be generally available to your employee population; and
  2. employers must provide exceptions for those who cannot be vaccinated due to their personal health or a disability, and/or sincerely held religious beliefs.

You should also take into account that, if you require your employees to be vaccinated, the time they spend actually getting vaccinated may be deemed working time under applicable law and they should therefore be paid for that time.    

Prior to implementing a mandatory (or even a recommended) vaccination policy (or making any adverse employment decisions with respect to the policy), please contact Lee Jacobs, Partner and Chair of the Employment Practices Group at lee@helbraunlevey.com

Delivery Companies Lawsuit Announcement

If you missed our announcement, the litigation group is gearing up to file a lawsuit against delivery companies such as Seamless, Grub Hub, Caviar, etc. for their violation of a law that was passed by NYC in May 2020 prohibiting fees from exceeding 20% of the total order (15% for a delivery fee and 5% for all other fees).

The response has been great, but the more the merrier! We are looking for clients who have experienced such trickery to come forward and join us in the litigation. Depending on the number of clients, we may launch the lawsuit as a class action! If your business utilizes a third-party delivery business, but you are unsure about whether you have been duped, please reach out to Maya Petrocelli, the Chair of the Litigation Practice Group, to discuss this further at maya.petrocelli@helbraunlevey.comWe will happily look into the circumstances for you—at no charge—and determine whether you qualify to join the litigation.


R.I.P. – jazz legend and cool cat, Chick Corea. 

As Jerry and the Boys say: Tell me all that you know; I’ll show you snow and rain

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