23 May 2020
As much uncertainty surrounds Hawaii’s phased reopening, many local businesses may be concerned about how they will be able to reopen faced with strict guidelines to keep customers and employees safe as well as having possibly been unable to earn anything while the shutdown was in place.
However, there are resources, both becoming available to aid industries across the business spectrum. These resources range from providing economic relief to small business, to aiding in adhering to proper sanitation and safety when providing your service.
We at Hawaii Thrive have compiled some local resources that we see as extremely helpful in aiding the success of your business.
Safety is the Number One Priority
Governor Ige’s four phase plan for reopening the islands requires businesses and their customers to adhere to social distancing guidelines. As each island transitions through these stages, 1 being retailers reopening, then medium risk businesses such as restaurants, salons, and movie theaters in stage 2, and lastly high risk businesses like bars and clubs in stage 3; maneuvering the intricacies of proper safety can be both time consuming and costly.
Luckily there are multiple local businesses dedicating their own expertise and service to aid in this transition.
The Maui Brewing Company is providing businesses, locals, as well as first responders with sanitizer that is 70 percent ethyl alcohol. Using the same distillery equipment that they use to make Kupu Spirits, they are providing the community with 16 ounce bottles, while police, healthcare workers, kupuna, and nonprofits are allowed either 1 or 5 gallons.
As businesses reopen Maui Brew Co implores owners who are looking for sanitizer over 2 gallons to order through their website and they will have it ready within 2 business days.
Hawaii Sea Spirits is another distillery producing sanitizer for the community. Dedicating some of the equipment used to produce Ocean Vodka, they are creating 80 percent ethyl alcohol sanitizer that adheres to the CDC and World Health Organization guidelines.
The Hawaii Sea Spirits sanitizer, initially only available to first responders, is being made available to locals through coordinating distribution with The Maui Food Bank and bottled using supplies provided by Maui Babe.
Another local resource for sanitizer that will help ensure the safety of your employees and customers is Pau Vodka. Teaming up with Maui Gold Pineapple, they are using their distilling equipment to create this product and providing it firstly to health care workers, government employees and community entities.
Sanitation is only one branch of how to keep your clientele and employees safe. Masks are the other important resource needed to operate your business successfully as the economy and islands reopen. Luckily, there are many masks being made by both locals in the community as well as for purchase in large quantities around the island.
A simple way to give back to the community that will ensure that your business thrives as we move forward, is by buying masks local. However, it is crucial that these vendors are creating products that adhere to CDC and Word Health Organization guidelines.
The CDC implores: “The mouth and nose are fully covered. The covering fits snugly against the sides of the face so there are no gaps. You do not have any difficulty breathing while wearing the cloth face covering. The cloth face covering can be tied or otherwise secured to prevent slipping. Wash your cloth face covering after each use in the washing machine or by hand using a bleach solution. Allow it to completely dry.”
Fighting to Finance: Resources to Thrive in the Economy
If your business was not considered essential, you are experiencing the ramifications of now almost two months of no profit. It can be scary and almost impossible to think about having to employees, pay vendors, or having to get the word out about your relaunch.
Many business owners are facing the daunting decision of weighing the pros and cons of keeping their store front. Would the rent or mortgage of your brick and mortar be worth the limited in-house service you will be permitted to provide?
Luckily there are resources available to small businesses by both private and government organizations. There are options for small business financial assistance, United States SBA loans, tax breaks, and many other options for financing under the umbrella of the CARES Act.
Outside of loans, local groups like Employer’s Options are offering their services to business owners at extreme discounts in order to help you strategize how to reemploy your staff and reopen.
There are so many resources that are potentially available to small businesses they can be best found in the links compiled below:
Facebook Small Business Grants Program
James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund
Opportunity Fund COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund
Restaurant Workers Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund
The Main Street Initiative by Mainvest
Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Assistance
Verizon and LISC Small Business Recovery Fund
The most important thing you can do to help your business navigate the uncertain and unprecedented waters of Hawaii’s phased reopening economy, is to make sure you are communicating with your customers clearly and consistently.
Your loyal customers, if not informed on the status of your business, will not know when they will be allowed to utilize your services. As well as potential customers, if not reached out to, will not know how and when to find you.
With not only the lack of tourism in Hawaii shifting the economy and potential business, but the lack of communication with local customers, you may be putting your business at risk.
Prevention and Early-Action is Key!
The World Health Organization has prepared multiple guidance packets that provide information on how to best keep your customers and employees safe and healthy when open for nearly every industry. These packets outline how to operate as safely as possible as well as give suggestions on how to prioritize different ventures or branches of your business.
COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses
Getting your Workplace Ready for COVID-19
Operational Considerations for COVID-19 Management in the Accommodation Sector
Considerations for Public Health and Social Measures in the Workplace in the Context of COVID-19
While these guides are extremely helpful in educating business owners on how they can most safely and effectively reopen, they do not provide a plan specific to the intricacies of the Kamaaina Economy reopening plan.
As politicians, business owners, organizations, and the local community alike, try and navigate a transformed Hawaii, it is important to recognize that different reopenings and restrictions are contingent on the success of continuing to keep the curve flat while operating. Mayor Caldwell of Oahu, while broadcasting a proposal for the reopening of the commercial districts and businesses, stated that if the cases soar, restrictions may be reinstated; a sentiment shared by the other mayors of Hawaii and Governor Ige.
Both the CDC and the World Health organization have made it clear that the greatest asset for reopening the country moving forward, is testing early, effectively, and often. The city of Honolulu, partnered with the University of Hawaii, unveiled a large-scale testing initiative that would include 50,000 diagnostic tests, 49,000 antibody tests, as well as a wastewater test that would track upticks in COVID-19 in particular communities. This project would be paid for with $4 million in federal stimulus funds.
This is not to say that testing will be readily available in all areas of Hawaii. Some businesses are worried about how they will be able to test every one of their employees. While national health services and government emphasize that testing is crucial to successful reopening, it is ultimately up to the business. The CDC provided a checklist to help businesses across the nation decide whether or not to reopen although they have no set guide to how to best test workers.
If you or your employees do not have access to proper testing, there are precautions that can be taken in order to curb the risk of infection. Making sure you disinfect surfaces often, wear proper protection, adhere to social distancing practices, as well as checking temperatures of employees before every shift, sending home anyone who registers over 100 degrees fahrenheit, are all ways you can monitor the safety of employees and customers.
We are writing a blog post that will be up within the next few days strategizing on ways in which you can make yourself available to your clientele, whether or not you are open, and how to properly communicate with your audience to bring business back to your company as Hawaii travels through these phases of reopening the economy.
We hope your company, your employees, your customers, and yourself are safe and healthy as all local businesses are given the chance to reopen and start providing services in a greater capacity.