Restaurants in Hawaii are facing unprecedented times, and the issues are at so many levels.
Starting earlier this month, Hawaii implemented new vaccination passport requirements for restaurants on Maui and in Honolulu. That is creating unanticipated problems at a time when restaurants are already struggling in a multitude of ways. Those include inadequate and demoralized staffing, reduction in capacity limits, and more.
Vaccination passport rules are now in effect on Maui and Oahu.
Earlier this month, rules went into effect on two islands. For those who are vaccinated, the ability to frequent restaurants is unaffected. For those unvaccinated, however, it presents a difficult situation.
1. In Honolulu, under the new Safe Access Oahu rules, diners must provide proof of vaccination or negative testing to enter.
2. On Maui, the rules, called Maui Safer Outside, require that customers provide evidence of vaccination to be admitted indoors. Outdoor dining only is permitted without such proof.
Hawaii restaurants find that customers aren’t always happy to comply with the new rules, and restaurant staff is stretched to the limit. Restaurant employees never envisioned themselves as security enforcers, and restauranteurs can ill afford any further problems at this point. Some restaurants are hiring security to help manage the situation, and at times police have also been summoned, and citations have been issued.
When customers do not comply with new rules, the onus falls on the restaurant, and they could face serious consequences, including $5,000 fines or jail. Restaurants must follow the rules; they don’t make them.
Many employees never returned to Hawaii restaurants.
Hawaii restaurants are still struggling to find employees for a variety of reasons. Those include government and employer vaccination or testing mandates, as well as a significant number who decided not to return to the industry after being unemployed during COVID.
Hawaii restaurant capacity is set at 50% for now.
Hawaii restaurants operate at a maximum of 50% capacity, while no “mingling” is permitted in bars. “Patrons in restaurants, bars, establishments must remain seated with parties maintaining six feet of distance.” — Governor Ige.
Eating out for lunch? Maybe not.
We have noticed that many restaurants are no longer keeping their normal hours. Be sure to check to be sure your favorite venue is still serving lunch.
Restaurants hit by COVID include the latest death of a Roy Yamaguchi-trained chef.
We were sad to learn this week of the death of the Westin Maui’s talented executive chef, Chris Lederer. The Roy’s (Roy Yamaguchi) trained talented chef was a rising star in Hawaii restaurants. His fiancee, to whom he was scheduled to be married next year, said that Chris was unvaccinated. A Go Fund Me has been set up to help pay for his memorial.
Are your Hawaii restaurant plans changing?
As for your editors, we are both still eating out far less than before. When we do eat out, we are often choosing take-out instead of in-restaurant dining.