Patience is wearing thin for business owners as Oahu remains stuck in Tier 3.
While most of the country has plans to drop restrictions within a few weeks, local business owners are frustrated that it has not happened here.
Many businesses were expecting an announcement that more restrictions will be lifted soon. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he got some push back from the governor and Oahu might have to wait until 60% of the population is fully vaccinated.
“Considering Hawaii is the only state in the nation so far that doesn’t have a reopening plan, yeah, I think businesses are a little anxious because as more people get vaccinated and the economy starts opening up, many businesses are ready to fully open,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii president and CEO.
“They keep saying follow the science and that’s what the CDC is doing, we’re not following the science,” said Don Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bar and Grill.
He is beyond anxious. He is ready to welcome bigger parties at his restaurant and start holding his popular block parties. They are major fundraisers that bring in much-needed help for non-profit organizations. Because they’re outside, Murphy says they should be pretty safe.
“I don’t know what the hold up is. I understand how holding back, we’ve gotten to the point that we are in, which is the best in the country in two or three of the important things. But how good does it have to get?” said Murphy.
He adds that Oahu is at the point where the restrictions now have diminishing returns because too many businesses are still suffering. He agrees that the State has done a good job in keeping case counts and deaths low when compared to the rest of the country, but he says it is time to reward the business owners.
Others say there should at least be a target date on when restrictions will be lifted so businesses can prepare.
“If businesses have some indication as when the reopening date to fully open will occur then at least they can ensure that they’re fully prepared, from the workforce, to the products, supplies, etc.,” said Menor-McNamara.
It could take several more weeks before Hawaii gets to fully vaccinate 60% of the population. Menor-McNamara points out that many states are fully opening up with vaccination rates far below that.
“The science, the data already shows, CDC has already indicated that it’s okay, it’s safe. Obviously, those who are not vaccinated yet take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. But it’s out there and that’s why we’re seeing all these other states fully open,” said Menor-Mcnamara.
KHON2 reached out to the mayor and the governor for comment on this but has not heard back.