HONOLULU(KHON2) — Restaurants have been struggling to stay afloat, wanting to fully reopen for more than a year, but many restaurant owners said asking for private medical information is more trouble than its worth.
Last week, Governor David Ige announced that they can operate at full capacity if they ensure guests are fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID test within 48 hours of dining. But very few establishments have taken advantage of the Tier 5 rules allowing them to operate at 100 percent.
One restaurant owner, who asked not to be identified, said he implemented the rule than rolled it back just a few hours later due to customer complaints. He said it was too hard on his employees and not worth the trouble.
Hawaii Restaurant Association Chairman Greg Maples said they are grateful the state is trying to help but added that the requirements make it more challenging.
“Going in this direction just presents a whole set of difficulties that we’ve never faced before,” Maples explained. “When you add in the, the expectations of guests that come from other states who don’t have mandates into a state that does, you always have this friction.”
Hana Koa Brewing Company in Kakaako implemented the change Tuesday. KHON2 reached out to find out how it’s going and is waiting for a response.
Residents said it’s asking too much.
“I feel like its kind of invading our personal information,” Katy Ayson from Ewa Beach said.
Arin Johnston said she doesn’t agree with it either.
“They’re saying you can’t come here if you’re not vaccinated or willing to show a test,” Johnston explained. “I’m all about wearing a mask in someone’s business cause you have that right to refuse business. If restaurants want to do that that’s their right too, but I’m not going to be able to enjoy your establishment.”
Attorney Rich Turbin said the state is acting within the law.
“Constitutionally, the government’s have the right to exercise, what we call police powers,” Turbin explained. “Those are the powers to to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens.”
He said it’s not discrimination cause anyone can get vaccinated or tested if they want to eat at that restaurant. No one is going to starve.
“They can go eat at another restaurant, or they can go buy food,” he said.
Governor Ige plans to drop all restrictions once 70%of the population is vaccinated. Health officials say that may happen this fall.