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Businesses owners can get information and resources to reopen safely, protect their staff and customers, run their business, and get financial assistance during the COVID-19 health emergency.

New York City businesses are reopening in phases.

The City is currently in Phase 4 of the State’s New York Forward Plan for reopening.

Within each phase, non-essential businesses may reopen if they belong to certain industries. 

Phase 1 (began June 8, 2020)Phase 2 (began June 22, 2020)
Phase 3 (began July 6, 2020)Phase 4 (began July 20, 2020)

Essential businesses and business activities that are open may remain open, but they must follow health and safety rules.

Online

By Phone

The NYC Business Restart Hotline can provide you with information on guidelines to reopen your business, including licensing, permits and inspections.

  • Agency: Small Business Services
  • Division: NYC Business Restart Hotline
  • Phone Number: (888) 727-4692
  • Business Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM

The City is currently in Phase 4 of the State’s New York Forward Plan for reopening.

Essential businesses and business activities that are open may remain open, but they must follow health and safety rules.

Essential businesses include:

  • Banks and related financial institutions
  • Bike repair shops
  • Child care centers
  • Dentists
  • Grocery and food production
  • Healthcare providers
  • Laundromats
  • Media
  • Restaurants, bars, and cafes
  • Pharmacies
  • Shipping
  • Taxis and car services
  • Utilities
  • Warehousing

Get information and guidance on essential services under the State Executive Order.

To report an essential business that is open but is not complying with necessary restrictions, visit the Business Reopening Complaint page.

To reopen and stay open, business must follow State-mandated health and safety rules.

These rules apply to both non-essential businesses and essential businesses that were previously permitted to remain open.

Rules for All Businesses

Safety Plan

Businesses must develop a Safety Plan outlining how it will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its workplace.

You can fill out the New York Forward Safety Plan Template or develop your own Safety Plan.

The Safety Plan doesn’t need to be submitted to an agency for approval, but it must be posted at the worksite where everyone can see it and be made available to City or State agencies during inspections.

Employee Symptoms Screening

Businesses must conduct employee health screenings every day. Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home or go home if they become sick at work.

Learn more on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Symptoms Screening page.

Hygiene and Cleaning

Businesses must:

  • Train employees on hygiene and safety practices
  • Provide and maintain hand hygiene stations for their employees. The stations must include hand washing with soap, water, and paper towels, and/or contact-free hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol for areas where handwashing isn’t feasible.
  • Regularly clean shared equipment and frequently touched surfaces

Face Coverings

Under the State’s Executive Order, face coverings are required in public for any individual over the age of two and those who do not have a medical condition that can prevent them from wearing a face covering.

Employers must give employees free face coverings and proper protective equipment and provide replacements

Business owners or building operators, or those authorized on their behalf can deny access to individuals who fail to wear a face covering on the premises.

Social and Physical Distancing

Workers must:

  • Keep at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others unless safety or core function of the work activity requires less
  • Wear a mask or a face covering if they are less than 6 feet from others

Employers must:

  • Reduce occupancy to under 50% and limit confined spaces to one person (elevators, behind cash registers, etc.)
  • Post signs and put tape or other markers to show people where to stand
  • Limit all in-person gatherings and meetings, and only hold them in large, well-ventilated areas with social distancing

Rules for Specific Industries

Businesses must also follow guidelines specific to their industry.

You can get detailed industry-specific guidelines on the following pages:

Get Help

The NYC Business Restart Hotline can provide you with information on guidelines to reopen your business, including licensing, permits and inspections.

  • Agency: Small Business Services
  • Division: NYC Business Restart Hotline
  • Phone Number: (888) 727-4692
  • Business Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM

In addition to keeping their workers and customers safe during the COVID-19 crisis, employers must continue to follow the workplace protection laws in place for their employees.

Worker Rights

Sick Leave

Under the City’s paid sick leave law, covered employees have the right to use safe and sick leave for the care and treatment of themselves or a family member. The federal and state governments have also passed laws to protect workers. To learn more, visit the Paid Safe and Sick Leave page.

In addition to paid sick leave, employees may be eligible for 2 additional days of unpaid leave under NYC’s Temporary Schedule Change Law. For more information, visit the Temporary Work Schedule Change page.

Work Schedule Changes

Under the law, covered employees have a right to temporary changes to their work schedule for certain personal events. Learn more on the Temporary Work Schedule Change page.

Commuter Benefits Law

Most New York City companies with 20 or more full-time employees must provide pre-tax transit benefits. Learn more on the Commuter Benefits Law page. 

Work Protections for Specific Workers

Retail and Fast Food Workers

Retail and fast food employers must offer employees predictable work schedules and give advance notice of changes or cancelations. Learn more on the Fair Workweek Law page.

Fast food workers have the right to have payments deducted voluntarily from their paycheck and have those payments sent to a nonprofit of the worker’s choosing. Learn more on the Fast Food Deductions Law page.

Grocery Store Workers

After a grocery store is sold, the former owner and new owner must notify the store's workers about the change in ownership and their employment rights. For more information, visit the Grocery Store Sale Requirements page.

Paid Care Workers

Paid care workers include homecare and domestic workers such as:

  • Nannies
  • Caregivers
  • Home health aides
  • Personal care aides
  • Home attendants
  • House cleaners

You can learn about paid care worker rights, legal responsibilities for employers and get help with questions or complaints on the Paid Care Worker or Employer Assistance page.

Freelance Workers

You can learn about freelance worker rights, legal responsibilities for employers, and get help with questions or complaints, including contract disputes and payment issues on the Freelance Worker and Hiring Party Assistance page.

COVID-19 Discrimination

Employers cannot harass or discriminate against workers because of fears or stigma around COVID-19, including harassment or discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived race, national origin, disability, or other protected classes.

If this is happening to you, you can report it to the NYC Commission on Human Rights. Learn more on the Discrimination page.

Discrimination

It is illegal for business owners or staff at places of public accommodations, such as grocery stores, medical facilities, or restaurants, to kick customers out, refuse service, or otherwise treat customers less well than other customers because of fears or stigma around COVID-19. This includes harassment or discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived race, national origin, disability, or other protected classes.

Learn more about the law and how to report discrimination on the Discrimination page.

Price Gouging

Price gouging is illegal for any personal or household good or any service that is needed to prevent or limit the spread of or treat the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

Examples include:

  • Cleaning products
  • Disinfectants (wipes, liquids, sprays)
  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Medicines

Learn more on the Overcharge page.

Other Rules and Regulations

You can get information about City, county, State, and Federal business regulations through the NYC Business website.

Under a new Local Law, restaurants can charge customers who eat on-site a COVID-19 Recovery Charge, which cannot be more than 10% of the total bill.

This charge does not apply to:

  • Food carts
  • Food stands
  • Food trucks
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Takeout, pick-up, or delivery orders

Restaurants must disclose this charge on menus or wherever they list food and beverage choices. The disclosure must make clear that the COVID-19 Recovery Charge is a surcharge and not a tip or gratuity for restaurant workers.

The bill and/or receipt must show the dollar amount of the surcharge.

Get answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 Recovery Charge.

To file a complaint about restaurants that do not follow the City’s guidelines, visit the Restaurant Surcharge Complaint page.

NYC Small Business Services (SBS) can provide you with information on securing financing for your business, including resources from Federal, State, and City programs.

If you would like to receive updates about any new local, state or federal financial assistance programs that become available or other information to help your business during this crisis, you can also sign up to receive updates from SBS.

Online

Learn about financial resources for business owners during COVID-19.

By Phone

  • Agency: Small Business Services
  • Division: NYC Business Restart Hotline
  • Phone Number: (888) 727-4692
  • Business Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM

NYC LMI Storefront Loan

Storefront businesses that meet certain eligibility requirements can apply for a zero-interest loan up to $100,000. The loan can be used to help businesses restart or continue operations after experiencing challenges from COVID-19.

To be eligible for this loan, businesses must: 

  • Be a storefront business located within an LMI zip code:
    • Bronx: 10451, 10452, 10453, 10454, 10455, 10456, 10457, 10458, 10459, 10460, 10467, 10468, 10472, 10473, 10474 
    • Brooklyn: 11206, 11207, 11208, 11212, 11213, 11219, 11224, 11233, 11239      
    • Manhattan: 10002, 10029, 10030, 10035, 10037, 10039    
    • Queens: 11354, 11355, 11692 
  • Have business operations since or before January 1st, 2018 
  • Employ between two and 99 employees 

The application will be available online on November 30th.

Learn more about the NYC LMI Storefront Loan.

Interest Rate Reduction Grant

The Interest Rate Reduction Grant will help reduce the interest expense owed on an existing loan with select Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI). CDFIs focus on serving businesses that cannot easily access capital and creating opportunities that positively impact the communities they serve. SBS has partnered with 11 CDFIs who work primarily with Asian, Black, Latinx, and immigrant business owners. 

The grant will free up cash flow for businesses that can be repurposed to help restart or maintain operations. Businesses must have an existing loan with CDFIs listed below and should contact their CDFI to confirm if they are eligible to apply. 

  • Accompany Capital (Previously Business Center for New Americans) 
  • Ascendus (Previously Accion East) 
  • BOC Capital
  • Greater Jamaica Development Corporation (GJDC) 
  • Harlem Entrepreneurial Fund 
  • Renaissance Economic Development Corporation 
  • The Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (BOEDC) 
  • TruFund Financial Services 
  • Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ) 
  • Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation (WHIDC)
  • The Working World DBA Seed Commons

Learn more about the Interest Rate Reduction Grant.

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant

The Curtains Up NYC program offers free application assistance for NYC businesses and nonprofits connected to live performance applying for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program of the federal government. To learn more, visit the Curtains Up NYC page.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. This program will provide participants with funding equal to their COVID-19 pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location.  To learn more, visit the Restaurant Revitalization Fund page.

Financial Counseling

NYC Financial Empowerment Centers now provide free one-on-one professional financial counseling over the phone. Counselors can help you separate personal and business finances and more during COVID-19.

Centers do not provide grants.

Learn more on the Financial Counseling page.

The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan program run by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) that helps businesses keep their workforce employed during the COVID-19 crisis. PPP is a forgivable business loan, meaning you may not need to pay it back.

The deadline to apply is May 31, 2021.

Loan Forgiveness

Loans will be forgiven if you meet the following SBA criteria:

  • Maintain employee and compensation levels, and
  • Use your funds for eligible expenses, including 60% for payroll expenses and 40% for other eligible operating expenses. 

Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.

Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.

Eligibility

If this is your first PPP loan, your business must have 500 employees or fewer to be eligible.

If this is your second PPP loan, your business must:

  • Show proof of 25% economic loss in at least one quarter during 2020,
  • Have used your first PPP loan for authorized uses by the time you receive your second PPP loan, and
  • Have 300 employees or fewer.

Small businesses include:

  • Nonprofits
  • Veterans organizations
  • Tribal concerns
  • Self-employed individuals
  • Sole proprietorships
  • Independent contractors

Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries.

How to Apply

You can apply through any SBA lender or any participating federally-insured bank, credit union, or Farm Credit System.

You should ask your local lender to find out if they are participating. All loans will have the same terms regardless of lender or borrower.

Find a list of participating SBA lenders.

Learn more about the Federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Sign up for PPP email updates.

Get Help

NYC Small Business Services (SBS) is offering free technical assistance to business owners navigating the loan application process.

SBS can help you:

  • Understand which loan is best suited for your needs
  • Review and put together loan documents 
  • Calculate loan repayment terms 
  • Connect with multiple lenders – including banks, credit unions, non-profit lenders and the Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • Prepare SBA loan forgiveness documents 
  • Understand loan payment deferment options

Online

Request help with a small business loan application.

By Phone 

  • Agency: Small Business Services
  • Division: NYC Business Restart Hotline
  • Phone Number: (888) 727-4692
  • Business Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM

You can get help running your business, including:

  • Reopening
  • Complying with regulations
  • Licensing, permits, and inspections
  • Legal assistance, including help reviewing or negotiating your commercial lease
  • Recruiting employees

Online

Visit the following pages for information:

By Phone

  • Agency: Small Business Services
  • Division: NYC Business Restart Hotline
  • Phone Number: (888) 727-4692
  • Business Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM

Virtual Notary

An executive order by Governor Cuomo allows the temporary virtual notarization of documents that would normally have to be notarized in person.

The following are the conditions that must be met for virtual notarization:

  • The person seeking the Notary’s services, if not personally known to the Notary, must present valid photo ID to the Notary during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;
  • The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the Notary (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);
  • The person must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the State of New York;
  • The person must transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document directly to the Notary on the same date it was signed;
  • The notary may notarize the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same back to the person; and,
  • The notary may repeat the notarization of the original signed document as of the date of execution provided the Notary receives such original signed document together with the electronically notarized copy within thirty days after the date of execution.

You can get help accessing personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer, and other supplies for your business. You can also get free face coverings for you and your employees.

The City is working with business-serving partner organizations to distribute face coverings to small businesses at pick-up sites.

Distribution partners can provide up to five face coverings per employee. These face coverings are for use by you and your employees, not your clients and customers.

Contact the partner organization in advance to confirm pick-up hours.

Online

Find a face covering pick-up site.

By Phone

  • Agency: Small Business Services
  • Division: NYC Business Restart Hotline
  • Phone Number: (888) 727-4692
  • Business Hours: Monday - Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM