(BIVN) – Governor David Ige on Friday announced measures to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Hawaiʻi, even as state lawmakers called for the governor to implement more stringent emergency measures to slow the spread of the virus.
Governor Ige and other officials recorded video messages from Oʻahu in which they talked about several measures to address the economic impact of COVID-19 in Hawaiʻi. The governor was joined by Scott Murakami, Director, State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR); and Jane Sawyer, District Director, Small Business Administration (SBA). The full media release and the videos are below.
Also on Friday, the State Senate urged the governor to shut things down.
President Ron Kouchi issued the following statement:
With confirmed cases of COVID-19 rising rapidly and evidence of community spread, Governor Ige must take immediate and drastic action to slow infections before our hospitals become overwhelmed. This moment is critically urgent and we cannot wait any longer. We see what is happening in other states that took too long to react. Now is the time for Hawaii to slow this incurable disease from devastating our community.
Govenor Ige must immediately order all residents to shelter in place for two weeks and shut down state operations.
As recommended by our Senate Special Committee on COVID-19, we must must immediately impose a 14-day quarantine on all incoming airline passengers and ban non-resident cruise ship passengers for the next 30 to 60 days.
The day before, the Speaker of the House also pushed the governor to take decisive action.
Here is the governor’s media release with videos produced by the office of the governor:
ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOANS AVAILABLE FOR HAWAII SMALL BUSINESSES SUFFERING LOSSES DUE TO COVID-19
Hawai‘i small businesses suffering financial losses from the impact of COVID-19 can now file for low-interest working capital loans of up to $2 million from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
The SBA today approved a certification request submitted by Gov. David Ige, clearing the way for Hawai‘i small businesses to participate in the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Assistance Program. The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll and other bills that can’t be paid because of a disaster’s impact.
“Small businesses are a vital economic driver in our community, and we must do everything we can to support them as they struggle through this crisis,” said Gov. Ige. “We appreciate the SBA’s quick action to approve this loan program for small businesses that have been hit so hard by COVID-19 outbreak.”
Loan applicants are required to file the following documents:
- Loan application (SBA Form 5), completed and signed.
- Tax Information Authorization (IRS Form 4506-T), completed and signed by each applicant, each principal owning 20 percent or more of the applicant business, each general partner or managing member; and, for any owner who has more than 50 percent ownership in an affiliate business. Affiliates include, but are not limited to, business parents, subsidiaries, and/or other businesses with common ownership or management;
- Complete copies, including all schedules, of the most recently filed Federal income tax returns for the applicant business; an explanation if not available.
- Personal Financial Statement (SBA Form 413) completed, signed, and dated by the applicant, each principal owning 20 percent or more of the applicant business, and each general partner or managing member.
- Schedule of Liabilities listing all fixed debts (SBA Form 2202 may be used) are required to file three SBA forms and one IRS form.
Loan forms and additional information can be accessed online at the SBA’s Disaster Assistance Loan Portal.
Interest rates for the loans are 3.75 percent for small businesses without credit available elsewhere. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75 percent. Terms are determined on a case by case basis, based upon borrower’s ability to repay. The SBA tries to make a decision on each application within 21 days. For businesses facing short-term liquidity issues, including making certain debt payments, it is highly recommended that they contact their bank to see what kind of relief programs may be available.
The SBA uses a “table of size standards” to define what qualifies as a small business based on the business’s number of employees and average annual receipts. Using these criteria, a small business could be defined as a business with a maximum of 250 employees up to a maximum of 1,500 employees.
According to an analysis by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism there are 8,302 businesses in Hawai‘i with 99 or fewer employees. Those businesses account for 96,189 jobs with a combined annual payroll of $3.16 billion.
STATE TAKES STEPS TO ADDRESS UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM PROBLEMS
Gov. Ige and Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) Director Scott Murakami also announced state actions to address unemployment claims filing problems and a program to efficiently train and transfer labor into Hawaiʻi’s businesses that can help reduce job losses and dampen the economic slide due to COVID-19.
“Please be assured that we are taking the actions necessary to ensure that all unemployment benefits claims will be filed and paid as quickly as possible. Please bear with us as we develop capacity and expand points of entry for filing claims,” said Gov. Ige.
The state is taking the following actions:
- Benefits will be paid to individuals who file their initial unemployment claims late.
- Expanding the online claims filing system capacity and increasing the phone facilities to field inquiries and assist in the filing of claims.
- Allocating staff from other programs within DLIR and from other state agencies to facilitate claims filing, processing, and benefits.
- Registering unemployment claims with the state workforce system on behalf of workers.
- Working with employers and labor organizations to facilitate the filing of claims.
- Availability of paper forms to file for unemployment benefits and drop boxes at unemployment offices statewide and at employer worksites.
- The state will interpret Hawai‘i’s unemployment laws to the broadest extent possible to cover those who are out of work because of COVID-19.
- Making the adjustments necessary to loosen eligibility requirements for claimants and reduce or eliminate experience rate adjustments for employers because of employees who receive unemployment benefits because of COVID-19.
REDUCING UNEMPLOYMENT DISRUPTION & DRIVING ECONOMIC REGENERATION (RUDDER)
Gov. Ige and DLIR Director Scott Murakami announced the launching of the Reducing Unemployment Disruption & Driving Economic Regeneration (RUDDER) program. RUDDER is the DLIR’s economic regeneration initiative that provides State Employment & Training Funds that immediately infuses money into the economy and serve as the foundational strategy for aligning federal workforce programs, such as the Disaster Recovery grants, in a unified effort to efficiently train and transfer labor into Hawaiʻi’s businesses that can help reduce job losses and dampen the economic slide due to COVID-19.
“The primary objective of RUDDER is to facilitate an efficient labor exchange between the sectors hardest hit by COVID-19 and healthcare sector employers hiring employees to combat COVID-19,” said DLIR Director Scott Murakami. “We know that jobs involving cleaning, such as hotel housekeepers, could move into jobs in the healthcare with minimal training and the RUDDER program will facilitate that exchange.”
The program provides up to $100,000 of relief to registered and compliant Hawai‘i businesses for new employees hired after March 1, 2020. The program provides an initial $500 payment for each new employee to offset training and associated costs upon notification to the department of the initial hiring of the employee. After six months of continuous employment and upon receipt of certification from the employer that they have retained the employee, the DLIR will issue a second payment of $500.
The DLIR has posted a COVID-19 Workplace Updates page [here].
Gov. Ige added, “I realize that in our community there is a lot of fear and anxiety over the COVID-19 crisis. And there are a lot of different ideas being offered to deal with the challenge. The steps we have taken so far have worked to protect the health and safety of our community. I am confident that the next steps that we are announcing soon will be effective, well-designed, and enhance our ability to deal with this threat as well as the economic impact it is.”