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Industry Insights
March252021
Light at the End of the Tunnel for Tri-State Hospitality

Jack Pulvirenti, CPA

3.25.21 | Industry Insights

Updated: 5.10.21

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the hospitality industry. Bars and restaurants spent most of 2020 shut down, while only recently reopening with strict guidelines and restrictions. However, with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and falling positivity rates, the governors within the tri-state area are beginning to loosen their restrictions, and there are now steps you can take to prepare for the upcoming Restaurant Revitalization Fund.  Here’s what we know as of April, 28 2021:

New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently made changes to his COVID-19 policies, citing that he is encouraged by the decrease in infection and hospitalization rates and the rise of vaccinations. According to the governor, New York’s bar and restaurant changes are as follows:

  • Commencing Friday, March 19, 2021, restaurants statewide, excluding New York City (NYC), were permitted to increase indoor dining capacity to 75%.
  •  NYC indoor dining capacity will increase from 50% to 75% on May 7, 2021.
  •  As of May 3, 2021, seating at bars will be allowed in NYC. However, six feet social distancing between parties is still in effect.
  • Effective April 28, 2021, patrons no longer have to order food with the purchase of alcohol at bars and restaurants.
  • Beginning on May 17, 2021, food and beverage service curfew (currently set at midnight) will be lifted for outdoor dining areas and will be lifted for indoor dining areas on May 31, 2021.
  • Capacity restrictions for indoor dining will be lifted on May 19, 2021. However, bars and restaurants must continue to follow social distancing guidelines, making it difficult for many bars and restaurants to achieve 100% capacity despite the lifting of the restriction. (Update)
  • Restaurants are allowed to provide curbside, food-only pick-up or delivery after 11:00pm.
  • In-person and catered events resumed at 50% capacity or 150 people per event on March 15, 2021.
  • Curfew for catered events where attendees have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test (currently set for 1:00am) will be lifted on May 17, 2021, and curfew for all catered events will be lifted May 31, 2021.
  • Catered events can resume at residences beginning on May 3, 2021, in accordance with New York State’s re-opening guidelines.
  • ALL BUSINESSES MUST CONTINUE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND WEARING MASKS

For more information on following Bar and Restaurant guidance in New York, click here.

New Jersey

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has set COVID-19 policies throughout the pandemic that mirror those of Governor Cuomo. The recent updates to Governor Murphy’s policies, detailed below, are also similar to New York’s:

  • Effective March 19, 2021, the indoor capacity limit increased to 50% throughout the state.
  • On May 10, 2021, indoor room capacities for events like weddings, proms and funerals will increase to 50% with a maximum of 250 individuals.
  • On May 19, 2021, New Jersey plans to end indoor capacity limits. (Update)
  • Effective May 7, 2021 indoor bar seating may resume. However, social distancing must be enforced, unless there are barriers separating patrons.
  • General outdoor gathering limit will increase to 500 individuals starting May 10, 2021.
  • Municipalities or counties may regulate the hours of in-person restaurant service after 8:00pm.
  • Seating at the bar in indoor areas is prohibited at all times.
  • Restaurants are permitted to have groups at indoor tables closer than six feet if they are separated by barriers that comply with Department of Health guidance.
  • ALL BUSINESSES MUST CONTINUE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING AND WEARING MASKS

For more updates regarding the loosening of restrictions on New Jersey businesses, click here.

Connecticut

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont’s plan for re-opening the state is much more aggressive than that of Governor’s Cuomo and Murphy. Governor Lamont’s new policy implementations for Connecticut also began on March 19, 2021 and are as follows:

  • As of Friday, March 19, 2021, Connecticut businesses may open at full capacity, however it is the right of the operator/owner if they choose to operate below 100% capacity.
  • 6 ft. spacing and social distancing continues to be required where possible (unless otherwise noted).
  • Masks continue to be required in all public settings where social distancing is not possible.
  • Performers and musical vocalists at restaurants, outdoor and indoor events, and performing arts venues are allowed, subject to the following:
    • 12 ft. spacing or more from the nearest person dining or working (for example, workstations or walking paths used by employees must be included in the 12 ft. distancing).
    • Businesses/organizations are strongly encouraged to require performers to obtain a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) within 72 hours prior to performing.

For further details on Connecticut businesses opening up, click here.

Preparing for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Updated: March 27, 2021

As of Tuesday, April 27, 2021, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced that applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will become available on Friday, April 30th at 9:00am EST and will open applications on Monday, May 3rd, at 12:00pm EST. The SBA has also provided an update for operators who will be applying for the RRF. Operators will no longer need to sign up for a System for Award Management (SAM) Account or acquire a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number to register for the RRF. These changes were made to make the application process more efficient for small businesses seeking help.

Almost a year to the day when the economy initially shut down due to the pandemic, hospitality businesses are finally seeing glimpses of hope for the industry. Although safety protocols—such as the continuation of mask wearing and social distancing—are still mandated, it is expected that restrictions will continue decrease over the coming months as more Americans get vaccinated.  We’re not at the finish line yet, but at least there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.

For more information on the changing restrictions on bars and restaurants in the tri-state area or any other matter related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact your Berdon advisor and visit Berdon’s COVID-19 Information Center.

Berdon LLP New York Accountants

 

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