In another troubling sign of the pandemic’s effect on the U.S. economy, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and her staff found more than 330 vacant storefronts along New York City’s iconic Broadway, a 78 percent increase from 2017, according to a report.
The survey, conducted at the end of August, found 335 empty businesses, compared to 188 three years ago, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Starting next year, New York City’s Department of Finance is expected to begin releasing more comprehensive vacancy information as part of an annual online storefront registry, helping provide a more comprehensive picture of how the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus has impacted businesses in the Big Apple.
Officials in Brewer’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.
The downbeat survey follows a July study (pdf) by The Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit group that focuses on research, policy formulation, and issue advocacy, which estimated that up to a third of the city’s 230,000 small businesses may never reopen.
“One thing is clear: returning to the pre-COVID-19 status quo is not an option. We are at a crossroads,” wrote Natasha Avanessians and Kathryn Wylde, the authors of the study, which was produced with input from 14 top global consulting firms.
“The virus seems under control, but fears of a resurgence remain. More than 1.5 million residents of the metropolitan region are currently out of work; tens of thousands of small businesses are at risk,” they wrote, warning that the tensions unleashed by the pandemic could lead to further disruption unless New Yorkers work together “for recovery and positive change.”
“The abrupt cessation of travel and tourism had a devastating impact on hospitality, retail, cultural, and entertainment venues, particularly the city’s 27,000 restaurants,” they pointed out in the study, saying that New York City’s highly valued cultural, social, and entertainment assets will most likely stay at least partially closed until next year.
“As many as a third of the 230,000 small businesses that populate neighborhood commercial corridors may never reopen,” they said, noting that the unemployment rate in the NYC metro area has skyrocketed to 18.3 percent, with as many as a million households struggling to feed their families and pay rent.
“It will be far more difficult to restart and repair the economy than it was to shut it down,” they said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sept. 9 that New York City restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining on Sept. 30, although under a restrictive set of rules.
“Strict restrictions will be in place,” Cuomo said in a tweet, detailing the constraints. Restaurants will be limited to 25 percent capacity, all customers will have to submit to a temperature check at the door and wear masks when not seated at a table, which must be arranged at least six feet apart.
Also, one member of each party will have to give contact tracing information. There will be no bar service, and restaurants must close by midnight while being held to more stringent air filtration and purification standards.