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Free COVID-19 tests offered for Oahu restaurant workers

Honolulu’s restaurant workers will be able to take a free COVID-19 test starting today. The city, in partnership with the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii, has 15,000 tests available for the food service industry.

Those who want to take a test need to bring a government ID and a recent two-week pay stub or a dated letter from an employer requesting a test. The PCR test will have results available within six hours.

The two testing sites are at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport between 9 a.m. and midnight and at the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel in Waikiki from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The free tests are a welcome resource for establishments such as Giovanni Pastrami in Waikiki. One of its owners, Ryan Tanaka, who is also president of Island Business Management, hoped it would give more workers an incentive to get tested.

“Having a free testing facility in Waikiki would be extremely convenient,” he said. “To have the test be available at no charge, it’ll encourage more employees to get tested not just in our restaurant, but in our restaurants and in all establishments.”

Hawaii Restaurant Association Chairman Greg Maples was excited about the opportunity.

“It’s going to make the restaurant employees feel much safer because they’re the ones that are interacting with the guests on a regular basis,” he said.

“This is going to do a lot for their confidence.”

Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in statement that the free tests will offer an extra layer of protection for restaurant workers as they wait to be vaccinated.

“This is an easy way we can be there for them, by providing free, COVID-19 testing,” he said.

“With the detection of new COVID-19 variants here on O‘ahu, and until enough of our island is vaccinated, keeping everyone in the City and County of Honolulu safe is our top priority. Testing plays a big role in that effort.”

Maples said he anticipated the vaccine being available to the food industry in late March or early April.

Food service workers are a part of Phase 1c of the state’s vaccination plan, which includes other essential workers, adults over the age of 65 and those with high-risk medical conditions.

The state is currently in Phase 1b of its vaccination plan but expanded it to those over the age of 70, first responders and front-line essential workers.

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