Restaurants struggling to make ends meet in the pandemic may finally get a little more breathing room.
Back in November, Beacon legislator Nick Page and the Democrats in the Dutchess County Legislature proposed capping the delivery fees charged to restaurants by companies such as GrubHub and Door Dash.
Republicans said the county did not have the power to act and blocked discussion of the cap in the legislature. They also expressed a fear of lawsuits from the delivery behemoths.
Since then, Albany became the third New York county to pass a temporary cap on an emergency basis joining New York City and Westchester.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants have lost most of their dine-in business and now operate almost exclusively through takeout and delivery. The delivery services charge restaurants as much as 30% per order.
Today, with COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations spiking, County Executive Marc Molinaro agreed to move forward with a 15% cap via an emergency executive order — but only five days at a time starting on Monday. The cap can be extended in five-day increments.
“The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted many industries, but none more so than the foodservice and hospitality industry,” said Molinaro. “By temporarily capping the fees to no more than 15 percent, the Emergency Order will provide much-needed relief to struggling local businesses and help ensure the survival of our local restaurants.”
Violations will be charged as Class B misdemeanors under the criminal code.
“I applaud the county executive for enacting the Democratic Caucus’ initiative to prioritize the survival of local restaurants in their time of crisis,” said Page. “Acting together we can best weather the storm.”
Back in December, Democrats pointed out that the winter surge of cases would make the situation for restaurants even worse due to the lack of outdoor dining options.
Page said he had proposed the original legislation because the delivery services have been able to charge fees “that are very difficult for the restaurants to manage in good times and when people are almost exclusively using delivery, they become prohibitive.”