Survey of restaurant owners reveals most don’t support an employee vaccine mandate

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Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 10:20 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 18, 2021 at 5:16 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new survey by the Hawaii Restaurant Association is revealing how eatery owners really feel about a possible vaccine mandate.

Most aren’t behind the idea.

The survey was sent out by the association to its members over the weekend. It asked them their thoughts on vaccine mandates, and whether employers should be compelled to force its workers to be vaccinated or take regular covid tests.

About 90% of those who responded weren’t in favor.

“And when we sent out the survey, it was overwhelming. The response as far as if there was an employee mandate, that there would be the risk of losing some key members,” Sarah Nguyen, incoming chairwoman of the Hawaii Restaurant Association and owner of The Pizza Press said.

She explained that 60% of the members pointed out that they would lose about 40 to 80% of their staff if employees are required to be vaccinated.

And right now they can’t afford to lose those employees.

“We’re already struggling in a lot of the restaurants just within the past year with a pandemic, and staffing shortages,” Nguyen added.

She says the restaurant association would only be in agreement with a statewide vaccine mandate if it applies to all indoor businesses. That way no single industry ends up harmed by the mandate by employees leaving for other industries.

“Not just restaurants, it would be retail, it would be fitness gyms, it would be theaters, any industry that has indoor activity,” said Nguyen. “We would be in agreement with that.”

Meanwhile, Merriman’s restaurant staff have until September 10 to get their first dose.

Testing will only be allowed for those with valid exemptions.

The owner, Peter Merriman said they too were concerned about losing employees.

“We thought it was an important enough decision that we should move forward with it,” said Merriman. “As we did, we found less and less people who were as reluctant, we’ll lose a few people, but overall we think we are going to retain 99% of the people.”

The restaurant association’s proposal does not include a vaccination requirement for its patrons.

Officials say there’s been multiple instances of backlash eateries have gotten from asking customers for vaccine cards.

“And we see if there were a customer vaccination mandate, I’m guessing probably another 20 to 25% decrease with sales,” said Nguyen.

The incoming chair woman said the results of the survey show the restaurants who don’t support mandatory vaccinations for employees are in areas where there are low vaccination rates.

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