City Council asks Mayor to revise tier system to help small businesses

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu City Council is asking Mayor Kirk Caldwell to revise his tier system so that small businesses can increase their capacity.

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In written testimony, several small business owners noted the difficulty of staying afloat at 50 percent occupancy or only allowing customers to come in with a reservation.

One group severely impacted by the pandemic has been live events, which aren’t even mentioned in Honolulu’s reopening plan.

Several members of production companies across Oahu showed how other countries have been able to safely conduct live events, including Hollywood, and they’ve asked City Council members if they could be considered as part of Honolulu’s Tier 3 and 4 reopening plans, with safety precautions in mind.

“There should be a point that we know that we’re back to business that’s at 100 percent,” said one of the testifiers.

“If you get all of us operating our events with the full discipline in place, then it’s like we’re reaching people as they come to our events and show this is the discipline and if we do it, then it works,” explained another testifier.

They said there are ways to have live events safely and keep people in bubbles and to easily contact trace staff and attendees. The City Council adopted the resolution on Monday.

The City, however, reminded high-risk businesses why the tier system was put in place to begin with. The push back comes as cities across the country are facing another lockdown due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“What we have done in creating this tier system was to try to prevent us from ever having to go to a stay-at-home order again,” explained Hiro Toiya, Honolulu’s Director of Emergency Management.

“We’ve had had these restrictions in place, guided by public health, to try to minimize the risk,” he continued. “That comes at a cost, and we’ve been doing what we can to provide assistance to the community.”

The City said that at the end of the day, it is up to the Department of Health to approve or deny what is allowed in each tier.

To date, the city said about 7,000 small businesses have been awarded $175 million in grants.

More information on small business grants can be found here.

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