State starts mailing out $500 cards for unemployed workers to spend at eateries

State starts distributing $500 cards for unemployed workers to spend at eateries

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new program that will give tens of thousands of unemployed workers in Hawaii a $500 card to spend at Hawaii eateries is set to launch Friday.

The Hawaii Restaurant Card program is funded with $75 million in federal CARES Act funds.

Cards are being mailed out to 116,000 workers in the islands who were unemployed in September.

The state also plans to send cards to an additional 30,000 unemployed workers who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as independent contractors.

Funds must be spent by Dec. 15.

Gov. David Ige said the program is an innovative win-win for the economy and Hawaii families.

“It will immediately drive business to the struggling restaurant industry,” Ige said, adding that the card doesn’t impact food stamp or Medicaid eligibility.

“It will directly benefit those who continue to be unemployed.”

The funds can be used at Hawaii restaurants, bakeries and caterers. Purchases are limited to food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Officials said restaurants have been hit particularly hard amid the pandemic, and scores have permanently closed as COVID-19 restrictions continue.

To check your eligibility for the card or for more details, click here.

This story will be updated.

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