BOROUGHWIDE – Brooklyn businesses are laying off part-time workers as they struggle to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce warns of a “complete collapse” for small businesses that have supported neighborhoods for generations, with 50 percent average revenue losses reported.
Restaurants, bars, hotels, and entertainment venues are the worst-hit, while most manufacturers retailers have experienced significant impacts, according to the Brooklyn Chamber. Grocery and drug stores, however, have experienced a surge of shoppers stockpiling groceries and medication. Most businesses worry about their workplace, especially if they need to suspend operations.
“Restaurants, retailers, construction firms and small manufacturers do not have the means to close and operate remotely, nor do they have the financial cushion to absorb this blow,” says Randy Peers, President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Depending on the duration of the crisis, many businesses will face difficult decisions, which will include laying off employees and possibly closing indefinitely.”
On Thursday, March 19, Council Speaker Corey Johnson proposed a $12 billion relief plan to help businesses and workers in New York City impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. But as guidelines change daily, confused business owners are asking for clarification. “We have been in the business since 2000 and we survived 9/11 but this is so different,” says one Brooklyn salon owner. “We had to cancel all 38 scheduled appointments this week.”
Zero-interest loans from the City are helpful to some business owners, but many of them can’t take on more debt. The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce welcomes tax payment deferments, outright reduction, or temporary elimination, as well as rent reductions and suspensions.