ABQ business owners say COVID-19 related ordinances will hurt them by Marissa Armas

Jun 29, 2020

    



Three of the items on Monday's special meeting agenda include a paid sick leave ordinance, a premium pay ordinance, and an ordinance that would require businesses to provide personal protective equipment to employees.


Myra Ghattas, the owner of Slate Street Cafe, said the paid sick leave ordinance is appalling during a global pandemic.

"I'm adamantly against it," Ghattas said. "This is not the time to be doing this. This is a time to be supporting small business, this is a time to be helping us. We are struggling."

The paid sick leave ordinance would require businesses to provide a minimum level of paid sick time to all employees, including time for them to take care of sick family members.

"I don't believe that we're going to allow a sick person to come in and affect people," said Ghattas. "We are encouraging our employees to take the time they need and again we have a provision in place by the federal government to pay for that."

That provision is the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act which went into effect in April.

"You're not just getting hit once, you're getting hit twice, and I don't think the councillors understand that, but it's real," said Dan Garcia, the owner of Garcia's Restaurants.

The sick leave ordinance would also include health care workers. The PPE ordinance would require all Albuquerque businesses to provide face masks for employees.

"The PPE is the least offensive of the ordinances," Ghattas said. "We already have masks available for our employees if they need them. Many workers and employees already have their own PPE equipment that they bring in and utilize."

City councilors Isaac Benton and Lan Sena are proposing the ordinance that would also put the cost on the employer, which some say can get expensive for smaller businesses.

"To supply 200 masks or 220 masks, you're talking about $5 to $10 a piece, so easy math: five times 200 is $1,000, and 10 is $2,000, so it adds up," Garcia said.

If it's passed and there are businesses that don't follow the ordinance, they could see a fine of up to $500.

Because of social distancing, public comments had to be received by 2 p.m. Monday to be considered, which Garcia and Ghattas said really didn't give them the opportunity to discuss and debate this ordinance with councilors.

If this paid sick time ordinance is passed, it would expire in December.

"Right now is a bad time for it, business is down, everything is down right now," Garcia said.
For more information on the ordinance, you can visit: https://cabq.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

Source: https://www.koat.com/article/abq-business-owners-say-covid-19-related-ordinances-will-hurt-them/33004506