FILE - Columbus, OH skyline

The Columbus, Ohio, skyline with the Main Street Bridge in the foreground

(The Center Square) – With Ohioans facing an ongoing curfew and continued pressure from Gov. Mike DeWine to stay at home, the state’s largest city plans to take steps to help both restaurants and their customers.

In an effort to help small businesses and the restaurant community, the Columbus City Council announced plans for legislation to cap third-party delivery services, according to President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown and Council President Shannon G. Hardin.

“Exorbitant delivery fees being sent to out-of-state corporations just make no sense when our local businesses are fighting so hard to keep up during this pandemic,” Brown said. “Capping those fees protects not only the restaurants who feed our residents but also the workers who make them run by also ensuring delivery driver pay and gratuity is protected under the new fee cap.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the state of Ohio has relaxed regulations on restaurants and bars, allowing liquor to be sold and delivered as part of the meal. Many Ohio cities also have allowed restaurant and bars to more easily expand outdoor dining.

At the same time, more and more Ohioans are turning to meal-delivery companies, rather than leaving home. Many restaurants use third-party apps and websites to place orders, and according to Brown and Hardin, many of those delivery services include commission fees of 30% or more of the purchase price.

The legislation caps those fees at 15%, and it will remain in effect for 120 days after the pandemic restrictions on restaurants end. It also says delivery services cannot reduce pay or garnish tips from delivery drivers in response to the cap.

“With Franklin County’s rising COVID-19 rates and the stay-at-home advisory, we’re going to see even more small businesses relying on third-party delivery services. This legislation is critical to keep our small and independent restaurants afloat,” Hardin said.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.