Worker health benefits a concern as hotels close

Coronavirus

Dozens of hotels suspended operations during the coronavirus pandemic, while thousands of laid-off workers apply for unemployment benefits, however, a union that represents employees said health insurance remains uncertain.

Thursday will be the beginning of mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors coming into Hawaii, although areas such as Waikiki continues to see fewer tourists.

Kalakaua Avenue

The bars are closed and popular restaurants no longer have their usual lines, Daniel Ramos who lives in the areas said it is not the usual scene.

Ramos said, “It looks completely different I see maybe five percent of the cars I am used to and 10 percent of the people that I am used to seeing.”

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said more than 40 hotels have suspended operations in the entire state and they expect even more to follow in the coming days.

Honolulu Councilmember, Kym Pine, calls on all hotels to close their doors unless the location is used to house essential personnel such as medical professionals. She said hotels could also volunteer to use their property as a hospital site to treat patients.

Pine said, “The sooner we can all work together with all the people in the tourism industry to work to keep us safe and covid-virus free the faster we will be able to as an entire state come back to work and get our economy back and going again.”

While hotels shut-down so do the paychecks for hospitality employees.

The Unite Here Local 5 Financial Secretary-Treasurer, Eric Gill said his staff is working to relieve the amount of unemployment benefit applications the state is currently receiving. He said employers have yet to provide information on health insurance for his members.

“State government would have to provide funds for continuing medical, and it’s a huge amount of money and it’s money that needs to be paid every month,” Gill said. “And, as far as I know, no one has yet assured anyone from the state level that money will be received.”

While Councilmember Pince said at this moment, the government and private industry need to work together to help local families.

Kalakaua Avenue


Pine said, “I am encouraging every hotel owner especially those who have made a lot of money to take care of their employees right now.”

The heavy traffic online for unemployment insurance claims has back-up the process, however, more information can be found here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.