Table of Contents
- 1 What we’re reading
- 2 And finally: Carmaggedon
- 2.1 The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
- 3 Metropolitan Diary: Wrapped up
Weather: Spotty showers and possibly heavy thunderstorms. High in the mid-80s.
Alternate-side parking: In effect until Saturday (Feast of the Assumption). Read about the amended regulations here.
The owners of Bank Street Bookstore, a 50-year-old children’s shop on the Upper West Side, were looking forward to busy shopping seasons.
Bryant Park Grill & Cafe, in Midtown, was expected to remain one of the country’s top-grossing restaurants.
Then the coronavirus crisis pulled the rug from underneath them.
The lack of tourists and commuters has devastated New York City, especially Manhattan. Since March, more than 2,800 businesses in the city have permanently closed, according to data from Yelp. And by the time the pandemic is over, one-third of the city’s 240,000 small businesses could be gone forever, according to a report by the Partnership for New York City, an influential business group.
Bank Street is closing for good this month. The owner of Bryant Park Grill & Cafe said he would never open another restaurant in the city.
Even the national chains, like J.C. Penney and Subway, are not immune to the economic pressures and have shuttered locations in Manhattan, according to my colleague, Matthew Haag, who covers New York real estate.
[Read more about the plight of the city’s small businesses and retail giants.]
I asked Mr. Haag more about the topic. Here’s an edited version of our conversation:
Q: What is the state of brick-and-mortar retailers in New York?
A: All types of retailers, both national brands and mom-and-pop stores, are struggling. But it is especially the case in Manhattan, where shoppers have disappeared because there are very few workers commuting into work, tourists are at home and many local residents have gone to their second homes or work remotely back at home with their parents.
Fifth Avenue, Times Square and Madison Avenue — some of the most prestigious retail spaces in the world — look like ghost towns.
How has the pandemic affected small businesses specifically?
Small businesses have been hit particularly hard because most do not have the resources like a national chain to survive a few days or weeks with little to no revenue, let alone five months. Some received federal aid, such as the Payroll Protection Program, but the funds have been used by now.
The smallest of small businesses — the businesses with one employee — were surviving on a weekly $600 federal stimulus check, but that benefit ended.
Landlords are also asking for rent, and small-business owners simply cannot afford what they used to pay.
What about the big chains in Manhattan? Are they paying rent?
Some national brands, such as Target and CVS, have stayed open because they were considered essential businesses. But others, especially apparel shops, have reopened stores elsewhere in the country, but not necessarily in Manhattan. That includes Victoria’s Secret, Gap and even the T.G.I. Friday’s in Times Square.
What we’re reading
A town in the Hudson Valley has the fastest-rising home prices in the United States. [Bloomberg]
More than 20 percent of the city’s summer school students never logged on for online classes. [Chalkbeat New York]
An ice cream truck driver is plowing through a street barrier in Brooklyn, neighbors say. The police are investigating. [New York Post]
And finally: Carmaggedon
Foster Kamer writes:
Nothing is truly discovered until a certain subset of New Yorkers try it out. And what have we discovered now?
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 12, 2020
Can I travel within the United States?
- Many states have travel restrictions, and lots of them are taking active measures to enforce those restrictions, like issuing fines or asking visitors to quarantine for 14 days. Here’s an ever-updating list of statewide restrictions. In general, travel does increase your chance of getting and spreading the virus, as you are bound to encounter more people than if you remained at your house in your own “pod.” “Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19,” the C.D.C. says. If you do travel, though, take precautions. If you can, drive. If you have to fly, be careful about picking your airline. But know that airlines are taking real steps to keep planes clean and limit your risk.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Cars! Buying and leasing, four wheels, the smell of gas and the joys of the open road. Emissions-spewing, fossil-fuel-guzzling automobiles — have you heard? They help you leave places quickly, and in a hermetically sealed bubble where the only expelled aerosols we have to inhale are the best kind: our own.
For a large segment of city-dwelling, taxi-taking, Citi Biking New Yorkers who swore off private transport long ago, the prospect of owning a ride here seemed at best unnecessary.
Then came the coronavirus, and now getting a car is suddenly a good idea.
Since mid-March, quarantine-weary New Yorkers have been buying more cars. And like bicycles before them, there’s a shortage of vehicles available at dealerships, particularly in the city.
According to data provided to The Times, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles processed 73,933 original car registrations in the five boroughs over June and July, an 18 percent increase over the 62,507 registrations from the same time last year.
So many New Yorkers are hitting the road that last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio went so far as to advise them not to buy cars, saying that the vehicles represent “the past.”
Clayton Mantell, the sales manager of Ramsey Subaru in New Jersey, has noticed the surge. “Easily 50 New Yorkers in July,” he said, when normally “it’d be like 10.” Many were first-time buyers.
“A lot of them just need an escape pod,” Mr. Mantell said.
And for some recent car purchasers, like Troy Kelley, buying was the financially prudent thing to do. He had to get to work in Manhattan from New Jersey; the shuttle service he normally used shut down, and he was ripping through money on private cars.
He ended up with a used white Mercedes C300.
“I’ve never really enjoyed driving, per se,” he said, “but it is good to have the freedom.”
It’s Thursday — vroom, vroom.
Metropolitan Diary: Wrapped up
The day my father turned 75, I flew down to Miami and met his neighbor as previously arranged.
In the hallway on their floor, the neighbor wrapped me in the gift paper I had brought along and stuck a glossy red bow in the middle of my forehead. Then I waddled to my parents’ door and rang the bell.
My father opened the door on the second ring.
“Happy birthday, Dad!” I cried out.
He backed away quickly, perhaps in shock, though I saw tears in his eyes.
“Annette,” he called to my mother, shaking his head. “You’re not going to believe this. It’s the New York City daughter here for dinner!”
— Jane Seskin
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