From the business sector, a mixed reaction to state’s new restrictions

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 10:25 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 10:28 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu business owners are breathing a sigh of relief after government leaders decided not to impose a broad shutdown Tuesday.

“I thought that we were going to be restricted to take out only again,” said Hiro Takei, owner of Odori-Ko.

The only new restriction: Restaurants can’t allow groups larger than five at a single table, down from 10.

Several small business owners say that’s not a big deal — and their businesses can bear that change.

“Five people is easy to handle. We can totally do it. And I’d rather do that than be totally shut down like we were back in March,” said Nico Chaize, owner of Nico’s.

Added Takei: “If people do call to make a reservation bigger than five, we will just ask them to split up.”

In addition, the state’s moratorium on evictions has been extended, while the traveler testing program has been pushed back once again until Oct. 1.

Tourism experts say the effects are crippling.

“We are going to put ourselves in a hole for years,” said Keith Vieira, head of KV & Associates Hospitality Consulting. “I think they should test everybody twice. Three days prior to arrival and then maybe do a simpler test, a split test or something one or two days after arrival.”

But some critics say the new mandates aren’t nearly enough to bring the state’s coronavirus caseload down.

“A day late and a dollar short,” said University of Hawaii epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller.

“There’s so many things that we can do that would help them but it’s like, ‘Nope, no thanks, we don’t need you. We’re doing great.’ And it’s been that way from the get-go.”

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