Business FAQ

Check the list below to ensure you've covered all your bases, gain inspiration or seek support

Support Forest Hills Eateries

What is Support Forest Hills Eateries? Are you trying to sell me something?

Support Forest Hills Eateries is a group of community volunteers who connected to support local eateries in Forest Hills, Queens, NY through the economic impact of COVID-19. Our goals are: (1) Connect eateries to ways they can support themselves through COVID-19 and (2) Connect local residents and community groups to ways they can support the local eateries they love through COVID-19. You can contact us on our Contact page.

How can I receive updates on policy changes and opportunities for eateries in Forest Hills?

You can subscribe to our newsletter here.

How can Support Forest Hills Eateries support my eatery to gain visibility and traffic during COVID-19?

Forest Hills residents may be unaware of which food businesses are still open, whether they have takeout and/or delivery, and of special hours. Residents may also use third-party sites for delivery without considering that they may be missing an opportunity to provide more money directly to an eatery.
Support Forest Hills Eateries is maintaining a list of eateries open for takeout or delivery and sharing information via our website, Facebook Group, Instagram, and newsletter encouraging residents to support eateries by buying directly. Please let us know via our Contact page if you would like to be listed or to update information on takeout, delivery, or hours.

Public Health Guidance

When can I expect Forest Hills to reopen?

Eateries are designated essential businesses for takeout and delivery only. Within New York State’s four-phase reopening plan, restaurants and food services can more fully open in Phase Three. As of 6/16/20, New York City, including Forest Hills, is expected to reach the criteria for Phase Two of reopening in early July, when outdoor in-person seating would be permitted. You can track more specific metrics on reopening using New York Forward’s regional monitoring dashboard. The governor has advised that each phase of the four-step reopening plan should occur two weeks apart, meaning Forest Hills may then reach Phase Three in mid-August at the earliest, however New York State has stated that the timeline is continuously changing. (Last updated 6/16/20)

How can I prepare my eatery to reopen?

According to the New York City Department for Small Business Services, each business, including those designated as essential, which includes eateries in Forest Hills conducting takeout or delivery, must develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. This plan does not need to be submitted to a state agency for approval but must be retained on the premises of the business and must be made available to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) or local health or safety authorities in the event of an inspection. A plan template has been provided by the New York State Department of Health, which you may use, or you may create your own Safety Plan. You can prepare to apply for the New York Forward Loan Fund, announced on May 22 by New York State and designed to support businesses and organizations with new expenses, such as inventory or refitting for new social distancing guidelines, to comply with guidelines under the New York Forward Plan. New York State has said that priority will be given to industries and regions that have been reopened. The New York Department of Small Business Services has launched a dedicated hotline, at 888-SBS-4NYC. You can access New York’s Outdoor and Takeout/Delivery Food Services Guidelines here. (Last updated 6/18/20)

How can my eatery operate safely?

The New York City Department of Small Business Services has given the following guidance:

  • Offer contact-less delivery. If you or your customers prefer, you can offer to leave food just outside their doors instead of waiting for them to open the door for you
  • Follow NYC Health Code requirements for food preparation to prevent foodborne illness. No additional food protection protocols are required for COVID-19.
  • Do not make deliveries if you are sick. You should be at home if you are sick.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before and after each delivery.
  • Practice social distancing, keeping 6 feet between you and others.
  • If you do interact with a customer, remember to wash hands or use hand sanitizer after every transaction.
Ensure your employees wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when handling cash and regularly clean equipment such as card readers. You can access New York’s Outdoor and Takeout/Delivery Food Services Guidelines here. You can contact the Regional Control Board for New York City at nycnyf@esd.ny.gov with questions on health guidances not answered in this FAQ.

How does New York State define “in-store pickup”?

Until New York City reaches Phase Three of reopening, only takeout and delivery options are allowed. New York State has given the following guidance: “In-store pickup is defined as a customer placing an order for specific item(s) by phone or internet in advance, then collecting such order at the retail location. The retail location must abide by physical distancing requirements which prohibit occupancy within the location to no more than 50% of the maximum occupancy, including both employees and customers. Customers are only allowed on the premise to retrieve their prearranged order; not to browse or place an in-person order. Customers must maintain 6 feet of space from others or wear an acceptable face covering, if unable to maintain such distance.​”

Can I deny entry to individuals not wearing a face-covering?

Yes, you have the ability to deny entry to those not wearing masks or other face-coverings if you choose to do so. On May 28, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order authorizing businesses to deny entry to individuals who do not wear masks or face-coverings.

What if I can’t obtain enough protective equipment for all of my employees?

According to New York Forward guidances, businesses can only reopen when able to fully supply required protective equipment, such as masks. There is currently a shortage of protective equipment. New York State has advised that businesses in Queens contact the New York City Office of Emergency Management for assistance in procuring PPE. According to Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.16, essential workers, which includes employees of food businesses in Forest Hills doing takeout or delivery, are still required to wear a face covering at work if they have direct contact with customers or others. Employers must provide face coverings to employees at employers’ expense. The City has said that they will continue distributing face coverings at locations including grocery stores and DOE Grab & Go meal sites.

Where can I obtain testing for COVID-19?

You can sign up for a COVID-19 antibody survey appointment at nyc.bioreference.com/antibodysurvey and via telephone at (888)279-0967 (Hours of Operation are M-F 8 AM-8 PM; Sat/Sun 9 AM-5 PM). You will receive a confirmation code to bring to your appointment. More information can be found at the City’s COVID-19 Citywide Information Portal. Employees that have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies and have recovered must still follow rules regarding social distancing and protective equipment.

Disruption During COVID-19

I have less business as a result of COVID-19 and cannot keep all my employees full time. What options do I have?

New York State’s Shared Work Program is an alternative to laying off workers. Through the program, employees can work a schedule reduced by between 20% and 60% and collect partial Unemployment Insurance benefits for up to 26 weeks. The Shared Work Program only applies to a reduction in an employee’s “normal work” hours, so does not apply to a reduction in an employee’s overtime hours. You can use this option for all employees or one or more specific groups of at least two employees each. An employer can still lay off some workers from the plan and keep the others on it, if needed in the future, or opt not to use the plan for a specific week if business picks up. From the New York State Department of Labor on the Shared Work Program and an Employer’s Unemployment Insurance Rate: While Shared Work benefits are normally charged against an employer’s experience rating account, for claims filed between March 30, 2020 and December 27, 2020, Shared Work benefits are federally funded and no charges will be applied to the employer’s account. The additional $600 in weekly benefits paid to eligible Shared Work participants through July 31, 2020 will also be 100% federally funded. (Last updated 6/18/20)

My food business is now unable to obtain a certain food item, or I have excess supply of one or more food items. What do I do?

You may benefit from New York City’s Food Supply Match. The City is working to connect food sellers and buyers, including NYC grocers, markets, and distributors.

I am dealing with a commercial lease issue. Where can I find legal advice?

Non-franchise small businesses in the City of New York may be eligible for free legal services through the City’s Commercial Lease Assistance Program. This includes discussing signing a new commercial lease; amending, renewing, or terminating an existing commercial lease; or addressing another commercial lease-related issue.

Are there any attorneys that have volunteered to help small businesses pro bono?

The New York City Department of Small Business Services has aggregated COVID-19 guidance for business owners, including opportunities for free legal consultations through the City Bar Justice Center (CBJC)’s COVID-19 Small Business Remote Legal Clinic and the Small Business Legal Relief Alliance (SBLRA). The New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) maintains a free NY COVID-19 Legal Resource Hotline, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm during the week (not specifically for small businesses).

Where can I access information on unemployment insurance? Are there any changes to those policies?

Information on unemployment insurance can be found at the New York State Department of Labor here. Beginning March 12, 2020, the 7-day waiting period for claiming unemployment insurance has been waived, and New York has extended the period covered by unemployment benefits by 13 weeks, for a total of 39 weeks. If you are not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, and others) and are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency, you may now be eligible through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Additional information on employer charges and unemployment insurance can be found at the New York State Department Labor’s page here. Employers will be charged for regular unemployment insurance during the economic impact of COVID-19, unless the federal government reimburses New York State for the cost of benefits. (Last updated 6/18/20)

Obtaining Financial Relief

How can I access direct financial resources for my small business?

The Small Business Administration has several forms of funding available for small businesses seeking relief, which can be accessed here. The main sources currently available include:

  • The Paycheck Protection Program Loan: entities including small businesses, franchisees, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed persons may be eligible for loans from the Small Business Administration designed to incentivize businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. A new exemption extends this loan forgiveness for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined.
  • SBA Debt Relief: the Small Business Administration is paying 6 months of principal, interest, and any associated fees that borrowers owe for all current 7(a), 504, and Microloans in regular servicing status as well as new 7(a), 504, and Microloans disbursed prior to September 27, 2020. You do not need to apply for this assistance. If you have made a payment since March 27, 2020, you have the option of having the loan payment returned by the lender or applying the loan payment to further reduce the loan balance after SBA's payment.
  • The Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is no longer receiving applications from non-agricultural businesses, after funding ran out during the second round of applications. You can read more about the EIDL on Forbes here. If we have any updates on the EIDL, you can get them by signing up for our newsletter
  • The City of New York is providing businesses free financing assistance in applying for loans like the Paycheck Protection Program and assistance connecting with lenders including banks, credit unions, non-profit lenders, and the Small Business Administration. Request financing assistance here.
  • The New York Forward Loan Fund: announced May 22, is targeted towards small businesses, nonprofits, and small landlords in areas of New York State that are in the process of reopening. Applications are reviewed in different regions on a rolling basis, with 30% reserved for the New York City region. While Forest Hills is not reopening as soon as other parts of the state, businesses can still begin preparing their application (further information here). A FAQ document on the New York Forward Loan Fund can be accessed here. (Last updated 5/27/20)
  • The City of New York’s Small Business Continuity Loan Program has paused accepting applications, due to high interest (Updated 5/27/20). If we have any updates on the Continuity Loan Program, you can get them by signing up for our newsletter. You can sign up to receive updates from the NYC Department of Small Business Services here.

Where can I access information on New York State taxes and the coronavirus? Is there tax relief?

Information on the New York State Tax Department’s response to the coronavirus can be accessed here. From the New York State Tax Department: New York State personal income tax and corporation tax returns originally due on April 15, 2020, have been extended to July 15, 2020. In addition, all related tax payments due on April 15, 2020, may be deferred to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. (Last updated 5/26/20) Further guidance can be found at N-20-2, Announcement Regarding Relief from Certain Filing and Payment Deadlines due to the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19.

Further Information

Where can I obtain more in-depth information on the coronavirus and the restaurant industry in New York?

The National Restaurant Association has created a page with information on the coronavirus and the restaurant industry, including on operating safely and navigating public health restrictions. Further resources on restaurants and the coronavirus can be found at the New York City Department of Small Business Services and at the New York State Restaurant Association. Further health information for New York City can be found at the NYC COVID-19 Citywide Information Portal.

Where can I access other local resources with services for my business?

Forest Hills Patch is creating a directory of local businesses and their status during the economic impact of COVID-19. You can read more here. Local business on the directory that are still open include ones in accounting, printing services, and shipping.

My question isn’t answered here. Where can I get further information from Support Forest Hills Eateries?

You can reach one of our team members through our Contact page. We would love to hear from you!

While this situation is not easy to understand, SFHE is working to make information comprehensible.  Toggle the FAQ categories or use the search bar for more information. 

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Disclaimer: This information will be regularly updated to the best of abilities and is only meant to be an aggregation of information and research.