KHON2 (HONOLULU) — Some businesses said this is the worst surge of the COVID-19 pandemic to operate through so far. The days are long, staffing is short and so are the supplies.
Watanabe Floral’s challenges are not coming from their own staffing issues. Instead, it is due to sick-outs from the supply chain limiting its inventory.
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“Everything from lack of staffing at the farm level, whether it be in South America or in California, that’s the first line of problems,” said Monty Pereira, General Manager of Watanabe Floral Inc. “Then the product wasn’t even able to get into the country because the agricultural workers are not available or calling in sick.”
With Valentine’s Day, their biggest day of the year, coming up concerns are looming.
“It’s something that we’re going through contingency plans right now. Normally, we just create and you don’t worry about necessarily what types of flowers, because they’re all going to be available. This year, that’s not going to be the case,” Pereira said.
Sick-outs that are trickling into supply availability are causing empty shelves for grocery stores too. Foodland told KHON2 that they are currently dealing with shortages of pet food and sports drinks.
Fortunately, Foodland is not experiencing supply issues with staple items like bread, milk, eggs and toilet paper.
With delivery drivers also calling out sick, it is forcing some restaurants to get creative.
“We’ve been driving to grocery stores and finding supplies,” said Drew Crocker, General Manager of Duke’s Waikiki. “Our chefs are spending half their day calling supply vendors and trying to find those products and bring them in so that we can continue operating. So, it’s definitely presented some new challenges.”
The Hawaii Restaurant Association said some eateries are increasing prices or taking items off their menus as a result. Others are having a difficult time up keeping maintenance.
“Those maintenance companies are reporting that they don’t have staff to come out and you need refrigeration and you need plumbing and you need everything to be working when you have a fully operating restaurant,” said Sheryl Matsuoka, Executive Director of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.
Meanwhile, sick-outs and quarantining also impact first responders. Honolulu Police Department (HPD) updated the Police Commission on the issue Wednesday, Jan. 12.
“Our numbers for officers kind of fluctuate daily, but they range from 80 to 100 officers either quarantined or isolated,” said Chief Nishimoto of the Honolulu Police Department. “For our civilians, again, that number fluctuates daily and they average about a dozen a day.”
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HPD is reassuring the public that with those officers out, it doesn’t affect daily operations. Patrol is still able to respond to all 911 calls.