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More than half of Hawaiʻi’s restaurants will be forced to permanently close by April 2021, if tourism does not significantly increase, according to a survey by the Public Policy Center, which is housed in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In addition, 87% of those restaurateurs believe that if their restaurant fails, they will not be able to secure financing to start over.

The report explained, “If these assessments come to pass, not only will a vibrant portion of our state’s culture be silenced, but those members of our community with the skill and experience to resurrect the restaurant industry in a post-COVID environment will be locked out of doing so due to lack of ability to gain capital to restart.”

Results also indicated a strong perception statewide that government contact tracing has been ineffective, with less than 4% of restaurants seeing tangible results of the contact tracing efforts they have been directed to undertake. Also, a majority of restaurateurs have expressed “little” to “no” confidence in government decision making in regards to COVID-19. Restaurant owners and managers, however, are not opposed to taking additional safety procedures if these would lead to a loosening of restrictions. The survey received 184 responses with slightly more than 50% of respondents operating restaurants solely on Oʻahu.

This is the Public Policy Center’s third report on Hawaiʻi’s restaurant industry during COVID-19, which is aimed to stimulate discussions and inspire a renewed partnership between the restaurant industry and government officials.

View the entire report on the Public Policy Center’s website.

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