Merriman’s becomes one of Hawaii’s first businesses to require employee COVID vaccines

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — More vaccine requirements are rolling out for workers as COVID-19 cases continue to soar.

State and county workers are required to get the shots starting Monday, now some private businesses are also following suit.

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Merriman’s has four locations in Hawaii in Poipu, Honolulu, Kapalua, and Waimea.

Their employees are now required to get the first dose of a vaccine by Sept. 10. Employees can still have exemptions for medical or sincere religious beliefs but will be subject to testing.

“We felt like this is a way to create a super safe workplace for them, and for our guests as well, “Chef and owner Peter Merriman said. “I think, finally, the other part of that we felt a civic responsibility.”

Few employees were vocally opposed to the new rule.

“Most of the employees have taken it really well, because the majority of our employees are vaccinated, probably around 70% are vaccinated,” Chef Merriman added.

Currently 71.7% of the eligible population in Hawaii has been fully vaccinated. The Hawaii Restaurant Association says if workers are out for contact tracing or falling ill, they should stay home. Some don’t have paid sick leave.

“They have extended the tax credit that employer can get for being employees to stay home,” HRA representative Victor Lim said.

The HRA conducted a survey last weekend to see if restaurants would be open to vaccinations required for employees or customers.

“From what I’m hearing, there are more restaurants in Hawaii that already also doing it will be doing,” Lim added. “I think, because everybody recognizes this as everybody’s problem.”

It might turn out to be a prudent business move. Merriman’s is also looking at adding outdoor seating for those who are unvaccinated.

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“We’re going to institute this eventually for the guests as well,” Merriman said. “So we’re only doing that for health reasons. But it turns out, it just so happens that it also appears as if it might be a good business decision, because some customers are saying, ‘Hey, I’m gonna eat in your place more often. I’ll come there several times a week, because I’m going to feel safer at your place,'” Merriman said.

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