The Hawaii Restaurant Association has sent out an urgent plea for signatures on a petition seeking state government help so that restaurants may sustain themselves through the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our industry will not survive the upcoming weeks without significant assistance,” the association said in a statement today.
By midnight, the group hopes to collect 1,000 names, chairman Tom Jones said in the statement.
Among its request: tax relief, help providing health insurance to workers laid off and the ability to sell off unopened liquor.
Last week’s mandates closing bars and ending dine-in operations has had a “very swift and deleterious impact” on the industry, Jones said. “Most other full service restaurants serving take out meals are experiencing sales decreases of up to 80%.”
Many establishments — buffets, hot-pot and yakiniku restaurants, for example — simply cannot make the conversion to takeout only, he said.
Jones noted that the industry provided 98,900 jobs in 2019, 15% of the state’s employment.
The association is seeking “financial safety nets,” including:
>> A government call for abatement of rent and mortgage payments on the part of landlords and lending institutions
>> Abatement of sales and payroll taxes for the first and second quarters
>> Forgiveness of late fees on general excise tax payments for up to six months
>> Dollar-for-dollar tax credits for employers who cover employee health insurance during layoffs
>> Statewide abatement of utility and municipal fees until 60 days after the mandate is lifted
>> Unemployment for restaurant employees matching their average wages over two quarters
>> Allowing the sale of unopened alcoholic beverages by restaurants and bars
>> A call for health insurance providers to extend benefits for employees who are laid off
Those interested in signing the petition are directed to a spreadsheet: bit.ly/hrapetition