COVID-19’s Business Impact

Aug 21, 2020

Hawaii has been dealing with Covid-19 cases in the triple digits for weeks. But a growing number of business associations say the state still has not yet formulated a clear plan for dealing with the virus and its economic impact.

A recent survey by UHERO and the chambers of commerce in Hawaii found that nearly 17% of businesses statewide don’t expect their businesses to survive the pandemic. The percentage was highest on Maui, where 24% of businesses don’t expect to survive, and where 62% have seen virtually no revenue since this began.

And that was before the joint press conference Tuesday by Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in which they announced another month of restrictions. The limited reopening of tourism has been pushed back to Oct. 1, while social gatherings are limited to 5 people or fewer.

Business and industry associations were audibly frustrated at Monday’s meeting of the House Select Committee on Covid Preparedness. PBN followed up with them to learn more about their concerns. Chief among them is the lack of a plan from the state for reopening the economy or getting the virus under control.

Pamela Tumpap, president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce and a member of the House committee, said government inaction is coming at a cost, leaving businesses unsure of whether to stay open and tough it out or close down now rather than lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in fixed costs.

Bars are feeling the effects of a targeted lockdown on that industry in Honolulu. Oahu bars were among the last businesses allowed to reopen on June 19, but were shut down on July 31 for a month. Bill Comerford, chairman of the Hawaii Bar Owners Association, says this has bars, including his own, going bankrupt, faced with six months of rent and expenses but only 45 days of operations in which to make any revenue. “We’ve all been severely harmed,” he said. “We’re all broke.”