Letter from the Commissioner of NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment – September 3, 2021

Dear Friends,
This week, the remnants of Hurricane Ida poured record rain into New York City, creating flooding in all five boroughs and causing the tragic loss of at least 13 lives in New York City. We are grateful for the heroic efforts of our emergency responders and every day New Yorkers who were on the scene and continue to assist residents and businesses in the aftermath of the storm. For those in need of assistance, please note the following resources:
•    NYC Emergency Management has published a list of Post-Storm Resources, including locations of service centers offering resources in person today from 12-6pm.
•    NYC Department of Small Business Services has a hotline for businesses impacted by the storm: 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692).
•    New Yorkers are encouraged to report damage to their property by calling 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115) or by accessing the Damage Assessment Tool online. The Damage Assessment Tool allows the City to immediately collect damage information from New Yorkers to assess the impact upon affected areas. (Note: Reporting damage with this form is for tracking purposes only. You will not be provided a confirmation number.)
•    NYC Department of Buildings has a list of important post-flooding safety guidance.
•    Information about federal assistance is available on the FEMA and U.S. Small Business Administration webpages for resources. (Note: On the evening of September 2, President Biden declared that an emergency exists in the State of New York and ordered Federal assistance for all New York City boroughs. Federal webpages are being updated with new material, so continue to check them for information about assistance to New York residents and businesses.)
•    All New Yorkers are encouraged to sign up for Notify NYC, the City’s free emergency notification system, to receive phone calls, text messages, and/or emails alerts about traffic and transit disruptions and other emergencies. To sign up for Notify NYC, call 311, visit NYC.gov/NotifyNYC, or follow @NotifyNYC on Twitter.
Key to NYC
Earlier this week, the City published three new #KeytoNYC Small Business Service Guides for EntertainmentFitness and Indoor Dining establishments. The documents are available in multiple languages on the Key to NYC website, which also includes links to the following resources:
Note: The Key to NYC website will be updated regularly with new guidance and resources. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) also will continue to provide additional updates as they become available.
Earlier this week, MOME’s Office of Nightlife hosted a multi-agency Key to NYC webinar with representatives from City Hall, NYC Department of Small Business Services, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Commission on Human Rights. If you missed it, you can watch it here.

On September 8 at 11am, NYC Department of Small Business Services and the NYC Hospitality Alliance will host a Key to NYC webinar series for restaurants, bars, and clubs. Representatives from City agencies will be on hand to share resources and answer questions about how businesses can stay safe and in compliance. More information and registration is available here.

On September 2, NYS Department of Health released new guidance for classrooms statewide during the 2021-2022 academic year. Among other things, the guidance requires all students, personnel, teachers, administrators, contractors, and visitors to wear masks at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status. There are exceptions for people with disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask and for certain activities like playing an instrument, singing, and eating. For more information, visit the NYS Department of Health’s webpage.

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

People ages 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine. (Note: People who are between 12 and 17 years of age are eligible only for the Pfizer vaccine.) In addition, the Centers for Disease Control announced that the COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.

People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised (meaning they have a weakened immune system) are now eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine 28 days after the completion of their two-dose vaccine series. Find more information on the NYC Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine webpage.
ReminderLabor Law section 196-b allows employees to use sick leave for the recovery of any side effects of the COVID-19 vaccination and section 197-c allows leave to receive vaccinations.
It’s never been easier to get a vaccination:  
•   You can find your nearest COVID-19 vaccine site online or call 844-VAX-4NYC.
•    Vaccinations are available at some schools throughout August; see the list of dates and locations on the Department of Education’s website. (The first week of NYC public school starts on September 13!)
•   There are now many walk-up vaccine sites throughout the City where appointments are longer required. See a list of sites where you can get a walk-up vaccination today.

•   The NYC Mobile Vaccine Buses and Vans visit neighborhoods across the five boroughs to offer convenient, ADA-accessible COVID-19 vaccinations. The full schedule is available here. In-person interpretation in multiple languages and multilingual vaccine materials are available on site. Appointments are not required, but you can book in advance online or by calling 877-VAX-4NYC.

•   Free transportation to vaccination appointments in NYC is available for city residents 65 and older and those with disabilities who have no other way to get to a vaccination site. To arrange for transportation, call 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692).

•   Anyone living in the five boroughs can sign up for an in-home vaccination online or by calling 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692). Even if you received your first dose of Pfizer or Moderna through a different program, such as a clinic or mobile vaccination site, you can still receive the second dose at home.

•   Businesses and other organizations can request a temporary vaccination pop-up site in their facility or neighborhood.
New York City is offering incentives to encourage more New Yorkers get vaccinated. Adults who receive their first vaccine dose at New York City-run sites are now eligible to receive a $100 pre-paid gift card, free tickets, or memberships, and can enter a competition to win exclusive prizes. Anyone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine at any time can take advantage of discounts and giveaways from other NYC businesses by showing their CDC vaccination card.
Face Coverings
To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, the Mayor and the NYC Health Department strongly recommend all people over age two to wear masks or face coverings indoors in public places in New York City, even if fully vaccinated. Also, please remember to keep doing what we know works: wash your hands; if you’re sick, get tested and stay home; and get vaccinated.

The New York State Travel Advisory is no longer in effect. Travelers arriving in New York are no longer required to submit New York State traveler health forms. All travelers, domestic and international, should continue to follow all CDC travel requirements.

As of August 9, American citizens and permanent residents of the United States, who currently reside in the U.S. and who qualify as fully vaccinated travelers, will be able to enter Canada for discretionary travel. For more information, see Canada’s official website.

Arts and Entertainment
Applications are open for the third round of grants from the NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre, a program in partnership with New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Qualified applicants can apply for finishing grants through November 1, 2021.The NYC Women’s Fund was created to address the underrepresentation of female-identified creatives in the entertainment industries. Since the program’s launch in 2018, MOME has awarded $3.5 million to 157 film, theatre, and music projects. Information about the program, including a schedule of informational sessions, is available on the NYC Women’s Fund website.
The third and final cycle of applicants for City Artist Corps grants closed on August 10. A program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts with support from MOME, City Artist Corps Grants are intended to support NYC-based working artists who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Keep an eye out for City Artist Corps activities throughout the five boroughs that are happening until October 31.

Open Culture performances continue to roll out in neighborhoods across the city. The program, which runs through October 31, allows ticketed, socially distanced, outdoor performances at nearly 200 street locations throughout the five boroughs. The NYC Open Culture Program Resources page offers tips for planning and preparation for Open Culture events, links to best practices and protocols for live performance developed by unions and performing arts organizations.

Media Production   

Film permittees must follow State regulations on face coverings and social distancing, but the NYS DOH Interim Guidance for Media Production During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is now optional. Please read MOME’s updated FAQ on Production Activity on Public Property in New York City During the COVID-19 Pandemic for answers to questions about remaining health and safety requirements and limitations on film permits. If you have questions about these changes after reading the film permit webpage, please call the Film Office at (212) 489-6710.


The City enacted a suite of local laws this week relating to third-party food delivery services, including extending the limitation on fees charged to food service establishments by third-party food delivery services (Local Law 94 of 2021), extending the prohibition of certain telephone order charges by third-party food delivery services (Local Law 93 of 2021), and imposing other requirements on delivery services (Local Law 90Local Law 91, and Local Law 92 of 2021).

The State recently amended Alcoholic Beverage Control Law section 110(1)(g), allowing New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) licensees participating in the Open Restaurants Program to continue serving alcohol on City property for an additional year.  The SLA issued important guidelines that require SLA-licensees that are participants in the Open Restaurants Program to take action.
•  Restaurants participating in the Open Restaurants Program before July 7, 2021, must follow the SLA’s instructions for “Licensees Already Utilizing Municipal Property” by providing notification that includes a copy of the authorization from NYC DOT and a diagram of the restaurant’s use of City property to SLA by October 5, 2021.
•  Restaurants applying to participate in the Open Restaurants Program on or after July 7, 2021, must follow the SLA’s instructions for “New Applicants for Municipal Property.” Specifically, new applicants must provide notice to the applicable community board. Thirty days after providing the notice, a new applicant must send proof of receipt of the notice along with a copy of the authorization from NYC DOT and a diagram of the restaurant’s use of City property.
The legal process to make the Open Restaurants Program permanent is now underway. You can read more about the process on the NYC Department of City Planning’s website.

The NYC Department of Small Business Services provides small businesses a sole point of contact to help navigate City regulations, guarantees a 48-hour response to all small business inquiries and will cut processing time by 50 percent. The program is a collaboration between several key agencies including SBS, Department of Buildings (DOB), Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). For more information, visit the NYC Business Quick Start website or call 888-SBS-4NYC (888-727-4692).
On August 25, Governor Hochul announced an expansion to the New York State COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program that will allow more businesses to apply. The Grant Program provides $800 million in assistance for small businesses (including small for-profit independent arts and cultural organizations), experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexible grants up to $50,000 can be used for operating expenses, including payroll, rent or mortgage payments, taxes, utilities, personal protective equipment, or other business expenses incurred during the pandemic. Over 330,000 small and micro businesses are potentially eligible for this program, including 57 percent of the State’s certified MWBEs. Application help is available by phone at 877-721-0097.
On September 2, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a new moratorium on COVID-related residential and commercial evictions for New York State which is in effect until January 15, 2022. Under the new law, all protections of the Tenant Safe Harbor Act for residential tenants who are suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic will remain in place, along with new protections on commercial evictions. You can read the new law on the New York State Senate’s website.
In addition, the state has expanded outreach under the NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)ERAP began accepting applications on June 1. Applicants to the program automatically receive protections from eviction while their application is pending. Eligible low and moderate-income households can get up to 12 months of their back rent paid, three months of future rent, and other assistance. There are no immigration status requirements to qualify for the program, and the State recently announced a new streamlined application process for New York’s rent relief program to help eliminate potential barriers for eligible New Yorkers to receive funding. NYC’s Human Resources Administration website offers information about the program, as well as a list of organizations that can help New Yorkers with their applications.
Moratorium Updates: There are many eviction protections available to NYC Tenants. Up-to-date information and resources are available on NYC’s 311 portal and NYC Human Resources website for renters at risk of eviction or entering shelter.

NYC homeowners at risk of being displaced from their communities can get help from the expanded Homeowner Help Desk. You can call 1-855-HOME-456 or stop by a Help Desk event. Support includes helping homeowners resolve housing challenges due to COVID-19, managing a home as a small landlord, understanding a home’s flood risk, and more.

The U.S. Small Business Administration will begin sending invitations for supplemental awards for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. SVOG supplemental awards are to be provided to those who received an initial grant and illustrated a 70% loss when comparing 2021’s first-quarter revenues to the same in 2019.  Supplemental award applicants can choose to apply for any amount up to 50% of their original SVOG amount, with a $10 million cap of the initial and supplemental awards combined, according to the law. The supplemental awards also allow SVOG recipients to extend the time to use their grant funds for expenses accrued through June 30, 2022 and lengthen their budget period to 18 months from the initial grant’s disbursement date. For more information, visit the SBA website.
The American Rescue Plan extends a number of critical tax benefits, particularly the Employee Retention Credit and Paid Leave Credit, to small businesses. Find out more on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s website.
Eligible small businesses, nonprofits, sole proprietors and independent contractors can still apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Learn more about EIDL and the Targeted EIDL Advance and Supplemental Targeted Advance.
Borrowers may be eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness. The SBA launched a streamlined application portal to allow borrowers with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans $150,000 or less through participating lenders to apply for forgiveness directly through the SBA. The new forgiveness platform will begin accepting applications from borrowers on August 4, 2021. Information about PPP loan forgiveness is available on SBA’s website.

The arts, entertainment, and hospitality industries were hit hard by the pandemic, with high unemployment rates. Many workers are experiencing housing insecurity and challenges with rent and mortgages. Please visit the federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s webpage to find help, whether you are a renter, homeowner, or landlord.


Throughout the pandemic, the creative community has consistently shown up to give their time, creativity, and talents to support the city’s recovery. Recently, New York City actors, singers, musicians, and late night hosts came together to produce a video rendition of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” to encourage the city’s recovery from the pandemic and drive civic engagement. The result is an incredible love letter to NYC from an impressive cross-section of our arts and entertainment community. MOME was proud to support the project, which was conceived of and produced by NYCNext. Find out more and learn how to get involved on the NYCNext website.
For the latest updates, sign up for MOME’s newsletter, follow our social media channels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit our website at www.nyc.gov/mome.
Stay safe and stay NYC strong,

Anne del Castillo


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