The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures today to urge Governor David Ige to provide continuing support for local businesses and streamline and simplify reopening guidelines.

The petition reiterates the Chamber’s support for the governor and mayors’ plans for a phased reopening, including the resumption of interisland travel. It calls for a definitive plan for restarting Trans-Pacific travel, a clear and consistent direction for reopening, clarification on the “Act with Care” designation, dedicated PPE supplies and contact tracers, and several other measures to help small businesses.

The petition was launched in partnership with the Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Kapolei, Kona-Kohala and Hawaii Island Chambers of Commerce; Retail Merchants of Hawaii; Hawaii Food Industry Association; Hawaii Farm Bureau; Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association; and the Hawaii Restaurant Association. This petition has been signed by over 1,000 business leaders who agree that immediate action needs to be taken.

“Local businesses are fighting for survival. The overwhelming response to this petition by signers from all walks of life, including those who are currently unemployed, makes it clear that our state needs to do more to provide assistance and clear guidance,” Sherry Menor-McNamara, President & CEO, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii said. “PPP funding and other grants are running out, and the business community needs long-term support to prevent mass closures. Many businesses cannot reopen until Trans-Pacific travel returns, and those that have reopened are further challenged by murky guidelines, competing jurisdictions and the absence of a unified message. All we are asking for is a clear, safe path forward.”

The petition calls for:

  • Clear, consistent direction and reopening guidelines that are delivered through one government voice, and a straightforward communications plan.
  • Expansion of testing and screening capability and availability across the state.
  • Definitive guidelines for an eventual full opening to visitors.
  • Government support and leadership to stimulate the kamaaina economy.
  • Robust resources to operate their businesses safely, including access to personal protective equipment and dedicated contact tracers to identify and stop future infections.
  • Clarification on the “Act with Care” designation including:
    • An exact list of businesses that can be reopened
    • Clarity on when bars, clubs and large venues can reopen.
    • Clarity on the stakeholders included in determining the minimum 14-day period between decision points.
  • Clear directives on liability protections for reopening businesses.
  • Expedited approval for permits that are required to install safety equipment.
  • Review of upcoming regulations to determine flexibility for businesses as they look to recover from the pandemic.
    • Removal of unnecessary regulation.
    • Cut superfluous agency spending.
  • Financial assistance to businesses beyond 2-3 months to help them survive. Based on the industry, some may need assistance beyond that.

This petition follows an April effort that led to over 1,000 supporters calling for economic assistance and other actions for businesses. The Chamber wrote to Governor Ige on March 20 to call for several actions, including expedited expansion of testing and testing sites, loan forgiveness programs and pausing any government debt payments, and on March 25 to urge him to suspend GET and tax collection.