Workers, tourism industry leaders disagree over how ready hotels are to reopen

Updated: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:43 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The hotel workers union has started inspecting hotels for coronavirus readiness and say many aren’t yet ready to reopen safely.

Local 5, the hotel workers union, said some managers failed to show them safety plans and many shuttered hotels didn’t yet have all the elements they need to welcome guests back.

Hawaii hotels are ramping up for the reboot of the tourism industry on Sept. 1.

“For workers going back to work hoping to be safe, it’s disturbing how management has not a disclosed how they intend to do that,” said Eric Gill, financial secretary-treasurer at UNITE HERE Local 5.

Workers who took part in a Local 5 news conference say they found a lack of signage, hand sanitizer for high-touch areas and Plexiglas.

They’re demanding safe working conditions.

“When I go home and I leave my home I want to return in the same way. I don’t want to be contaminated going back home hugging my wife, hugging my kids and getting them contaminated,” said Affron Herring, assistant pantry worker at Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Kekoa McClellan, Hawaii spokesman for American Hotel and Lodging Association, said the hotel industry will be ready when the state reopens.

Hotel industry leaders say they’ve adopted a host of safety standards, including extra sanitation and reduced contact between people.

“We are making sure that guests know that when they come to Hawaii nei ... you are expected to play by our rules and those rules require safety,” said McClellan.

On Sept. 1, the state hopes to modify rules to allow travelers to forgo quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 before arrival. Details on the pre-travel testing program are still be hammered out.

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