(BIVN) – The Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi held a “SOS Biz Rally” via online videoconference on Saturday, in order to raise awareness on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted local business in the islands.
“We appreciate the support of our county and state government’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID,” said Miles Yoshioka with the Hawaiʻi Island Chamber of Commerce, “but we need them to act quickly to provide relief to our businesses so that, really, they can stay in businesses.”
Yoshioka said many local businesses “are just a hair away from a complete shutdown, if not shut down already.”
“We all need to do our part to help our businesses stay in business,” Yoshioka said, “and keep our friends and neighbors employed by buying their products and their services.”
As of Sunday, officials reported no active cases of COVID-19 on Hawaiʻi island. However, there is growing spread of coronavirus on Oʻahu. The increase in Honolulu cases has forced officials to reconsider restrictions.
Debbie Ching-Maiava, the owner of Hilo’s iconic Ken’s House of Pancakes, as well as the nearby Ponds Restaurant, said during the video rally that Ken’s turns 50 years-old next year, “God willing.”
“We were the only 24-hour restaurant on the east side of Hawaiʻi,” Ching-Maiava said. “Now we’re only open from 6 in the morning to 9 at night. That’s a drastic change for us, and for the community. When COVID hit, we shut down for 3 months, and when we opened, it was a task to get workers back.”
“We went from 64 employees to 43 at Ken’s,” Ching-Maiava said, “and from 32 to 25 at Ponds. Our sales have dropped from 62% percent at Ken’s and 47% percent at Ponds.”
Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Wendy Laros said she would like to see Hawaiʻi state government help the unemployment
plus-up, and added they we just found out “that one of the line item vetoes that the Governor did on Thursday was to take away that extra hundred dollars – let alone the extra $600 – that’s $2,400 that people aren’t going to get each month, and that’s a lot.”
Laros also said she would like to see that the “U.S. Congress hurry up and get the next stimulus package passed. It takes time for the money to actually get into the businesses and to the community. That is extremely important right now.”
“I myself have been going out since June 5th,” said Unyong Nakata, the Operations Integrator and Enterprise Marketing Director for Y. Hata Co. “I’m careful, I’m not fearful,” she said.
“We need to get back to work, our kids need to go back to school, tourism needs to open back up,” Nakata said, “but we need to be careful, not fearful. I’m asking, I’m begging, I’m imploring all of us, and our leadership – local and state – to use real data. Stop having knee-jerk reactions. And if you don’t know, then let’s get together and talk about it, and bring the people who do know into the same room.”