WASHINGTON — Food costs are reportedly rising as economies struggle amid the pandemic, and with that, some restaurants have been adding a fee to bills to cover those rising costs.
The charge on many bills is clear, labeled as an additional COVID-19 surcharge. And, while some say they are happy to support these businesses, and understand the need, others believe it should be up to the customers to be a little more generous with tipping.
New York City-based attorney Gregory Frank told TODAY, diners across the country should be ready for the chance they'll see an added coronavirus or COVID fee on their receipt.
"Generally, restaurants are allowed to structure their pricing however they like," Frank said. "The important question is whether the restaurants are disclosing to consumers what they are paying before they pay it, so they can make their own informed choices."
As TODAY reported, one restaurant in Missouri made it abundantly clear they would start adding a surcharge, by placing multiple signs on their restaurant's facade and explaining their decision on social media with photos.
Officials cautiously eased more restrictions Saturday on eateries, shops and outdoor venues as they tried to restart economies without triggering a surge in new coronavirus infections.
Restaurants can reopen in New Orleans but must take reservations and limit the number of diners. Restaurants and other nonessential businesses will be allowed to open their doors on Monday in St. Louis city and county, but some people in the region worry that it’s still too early in the area of Missouri stung hardest by the coronavirus.
Public health experts warn that the pandemic could pick up again if precautions are not taken or officials move too quickly to get people back to work. Similar reopenings happened in many cities and countries around the world as infections declined.
Some business owners say they plan on taking the surcharge off completely once food prices return to normal.
Although some folks have said they'd be more than happy to pay a surcharge to help support their favorite local businesses, many customers are not a fan of the added fee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.