In the age of social distancing, Oahu businesses adapt ... or get left behind

Oahu restaurants and bars conitnue to adjust business models to stay afloat

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At dinner time, the restaurants and bars at Waiakamilo Shopping Center used to be packed. Now, under the stay-at-home order, they’re empty.

Honolulu DJ Nara Nellis is also rethinking her business model.

“Festivals are shut down, almost every venue nationwide is shut down,” she said. “I’ve still been working on mixes. Recorded a radio show earlier this morning,” she said.

Downtown bar owner Jasmine Mancos is also adjusting. “It's pretty expensive to keep the lights on and keep the staff in here,” she said.

Just weeks after opening Proof Social Club, she’s trying to keep her employees paid by delivering pizzas. “We really had to do a full pivot within the first month of owning our own business.”

Mancos says her applications for federal loans and grants were denied. But the state says more than 11,000 Hawaii small businesses are getting federal aid.

Many stores aren’t allowed to open right now.

And at those that are open, social distancing markers are the new normal.

Hotels are also closed. So are museum and attractions.

“Just goes to show how much we all have in common,” Nellis said. “We all essentially have been dealt the exact same cards, you know.”

Hotel industry leader Ray Vara said he believes Hawaii should begin to “open up commerce on a graduated basis” in the next couple of weeks.

But State House Speaker Scott Saiki said social distancing will need to continue until a vaccine is developed. That could take years.

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