September’s Executive Director Message – Restaurant Dining Rooms Closed For the 2nd Time + Bill 40

As a result of our now extended second Stay at Home / Work from Home Order that lasting from August 27 through Sept 23, our dining rooms were painfully closed again.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association has always taken the safety of our member’s employees and guests as our number one priority. We agree that we need to get a hold of the pandemic. However, the opening and closing of businesses is problematic on so many levels. Cash flow is already incredibly tight. A lot of businesses are still trying to catch up paying vendors from the first shut down, back rent, keep the doors open and pay employees.The Payment Protection Program is also gone.

By the time you read this article, dining rooms will have been shuttered now for 19 days, and barring another extension, will reopen in 9 days to the vast majority of guests that follow covid safety regulations

Our restaurants cannot afford to have another lockdown like this again. If our local government is shutting us down, we need stimulus money from the Federal Government. We must have open and transparent communications from the State and City government. We need to have 100% transparency with contact tracing, testing, and opening plans.

Transparency will show our community how COVID clusters start. In general people follow the rules. We do not want a COVID cluster in our homes or businesses. Stimulus funds are needed and will help dig us out of the hole we are in. 

Bill 40

We understand and support the need for ongoing sustainability to keep our islands beautiful. We need to protect our islands for our future generations. However, our objection is the timing of Bill 40. Since Bill 40 was passed pre-COVID, HRA is asking our City Council for a postponement of Bill 40 until 01-01- 2022.

Hawaii’s economy has been hit harder than any other time in its history with the long term effects not even yet known. THIS IS NOT the time to enact new laws that add on additional hardship to our restaurants and businesses.

There is a stipulation that a business may file for an application of exemption. Businesses may file if compliance with Bill 40 causes them significant hardship. However, you can’t file until 01-01-21 since that is when the ordinance is scheduled to take effect.

Effective January 1, 2021:

Ordinance: 19 – 30

Plastic Bag Ban amendments: new definitions for “plastic checkout bag” and “plastic film bag,” both of which contain revisions to six exemptions, including exemptions regarding food products; also a new definition of “plastic.”                                                    

No food vendor shall sell, serve, or provide disposable plastic service ware to customers.

A food vendor may only provide or distribute disposable service ware for prepared food or beverage:

  • Upon request or affirmative response of a customer or person being provided prepared food or beverage
  • In a self-service area or dispenser

Polystyrene foam foodware shall not be sold, provided, or offered for sale or use at any City facilities, City-authorized concession, City-sponsored or City-permitted events, or City programs.

C’mon City Council, our restaurants and food service industry need a break! Many restaurants may never recover from this pandemic and those that remain open need your support. Won’t you help us out and give us an extension until 01-01-2022?


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