NYC restaurants ‘harassed’ by inspectors, fined over confusing regulations

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National Restaurant Association EVP Sean Kennedy on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatening to shut restaurants for defying coronavirus guidelines.

Restaurants in New York City are struggling to try to keep up with local coronavirus-related restrictions and guidelines, and they are facing inspections and fined even when they believe they are in compliance, a state assemblywoman says.

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In a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said business owners in Manhattan are being “harassed” by inspectors, sometimes receiving multiple visits within the same day from the NYC Department of Buildings, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and the State Liquor Authority.

Malliotakis said many restaurateurs have invested substantial money to ensure their establishments were in compliance with guidelines – only to find out they in fact are not in compliance and their investments were pointless.

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Overall, she said, businesses are confused and frustrated with a lack of clarity regarding permissible dining activities.

“These owners have been struggling and are trying to do their best to follow every regulation based on the limited information provided to them,” Malliotakis said. “It is inherently wrong to continue to fine our owners when they are trying to follow convoluted directions.”

A spokesperson for de Blasio’s office did not immediately return FOX Business request for comment.

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The restaurant and hospitality industry has taken an extremely hard hit from the pandemic, due to lockdown measures and social distancing guidelines that were put into place in March.

While tiered reopening phases are in effect in most areas of the U.S., including New York, the vast amount of restaurants are not able to run at full capacity – which is particularly troublesome for businesses that typically operate on very thin margins.

In New York City specifically, indoor dining has been indefinitely postponed, which means restaurants are only able to host patrons outdoors—oftentimes in makeshift seating arrangements.

On Friday, de Blasio expanded what is known as the Open Restaurants program, which increases the sidewalk areas that restaurants can use for seating, through October.

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday banned the sale of to-go alcohol, instead of mandating that restaurants can only sell alcohol to seated patrons ordering food.

New York City restaurants or bars that receive “three strikes” for violating coronavirus-related restrictions will be forced to close, the governor said.

About 189,000 food service workers in the city were laid off between March and April, according to The New York Times.

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