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Honolulu liquor license applicants can get extensions to pay fee

Honolulu businesses still deciding whether or not to renew their liquor license could get an extension to pay the fee, but they must submit a renewal application by Friday.

Businesses must submit their application, payments and supporting documents to the Honolulu Liquor Commission by Friday to receive their licenses for Fiscal Year 2021, but some might decide not to because they are struggling during the COVID-19 outbreak that led to the shutdown of the Hawaii’s economy in March.

Bill Comerford, owner of four bars in Honolulu, asked the commission Thursday for a 90-day extension to pay a $1,980 fee after picking up his license for Irish Rose Saloon.

He said he was granted the extension and hopes other bars and licensees will consider doing so as well.

“There’s just an urgency because it’s short on time,” he said. “I’ve heard quite a few people say, ‘Nope. It’s past my numbers — I can’t go anymore.’ But this does give a sizable number of people a chance to keep going.”

With the virus apparently under some control in Hawaii, Gov. David Ige and the state’s mayors have been slowly allowing businesses to reopen. Bars, among the latest to get the go-ahead to resume operations, were allowed to open for business Friday.

Comerford said business is still slow for many, but an extension to pay the liquor license would help.

“We haven’t had a single dollar worth of sales for 90 days,” he said. “So, how would we go forward to pay our fees?”

He had said previously that social distancing rules hurt businesses like bars.

Comerford, who’s also chairman of the Hawaii Bar Owners Association, announced Sunday the possibility of an extension on the association’s website, hiboa.org, where a form similar to the one he submitted for Irish Rose Saloon is also available.

HIBOA said the extension would be a win-win situation for the commission and the licensees.

“This arrangement allows for the extension of payment until after the bars have been allowed to operate and re-establish a cash flow,” it said in a news release. “It allows for the licensee’s survival and the continued cash flow to the Commission to continue their operations.”

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