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Hawaii seafood processors face deadline to apply for COVID-19 relief money

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Eligible seafood processors in Hawaii who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have until May 1 to apply for relief funds.

The state Department of Agriculture said in a news release today that it is administering a federal grant program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide the relief funding. The state received $200,000 in funding from the USDA’s Pandemic Response and Safety Block Grant Program to do so.

“Like many of Hawai`i’s industries, the seafood industry has had to manage many safety and marketing issues presented by the pandemic,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairwoman of the DOA, in a statement. “This federal block grant program is meant to help defray some of the expense that seafood processors incurred for workplace safety, employee health and a shifting market.”

Eligible costs must have been incurred between Jan. 27, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021. Eligible processors are limited to companies regulated under the state Department of Health’s Food Safety Branch Program.

Costs that can be reimbursed will be associated with:

>> Workplace safety measures, which include personal protective equipment, sanitizer, hand washing stations, air filters, thermometers, cleaning supplies, or similar items.

>> Market pivots, including the transition to virtual or online sales costs, supplies and new signage.

>> Retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety, such as retrofitting harvester vessels for onboard vessel processing to maximize open-air activities, plexiglass, walk-up windows, heat lamps, fans, tents, propane, weights, tables and chairs.

>> Additional transportation costs to maintain social distancing.

>> Additional worker housing costs to maintain social distancing or to allow for quarantining of new or exposed employees.

>> Unreimbursed costs associated with providing or enabling vaccinations, testing or healthcare treatment of infected employees, including any paid leave.

More information about the program, including an application form, can be found on the Dept. of Agriculture’s website.

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