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Survey: Delta hit restaurants harder than expected

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A new survey shows the surge in Delta variant COVID cases late this summer hit local restaurants harder than they projected.

A Hawai'i Restaurant Association survey conducted last week shows 80% of the restaurants it surveyed lost over 30% of their revenue because of the COVID surge. Nearly 40% saw revenues cut by half.

The group attributed the lost revenue to a drop in foot traffic — both from visitors and residents staying home.

Ryan Tanaka is the incoming chair of the restaurant association. He hopes the gradual lifting of COVID-related restrictions and high rate of vaccinations improves the situation.

“So right now, indoor seating, we’re at 50% capacity. We're hoping that Gov. Ige removes the capacity restriction and then we get back to 100% indoor," Tanaka said. "On the outdoor (seating capacity), we're hoping that Mayor Blangiardi will incorporate into the Safe Access O‘ahu Program, outdoor seating for both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

"And then lastly, we're asking that government might consider reducing the 6-foot requirement down to 3 feet, which is actually in line with (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance for schools.”

The association polled 192 restaurateurs in early September. At the time, only 61% said they expected to lose over 30% of their revenue.

In addition to COVID restrictions and loss of foot traffic, restaurants have also had to contend with a labor shortage, rise in costs and supply chain issues.

“We appreciate our community supporting local, that’s making all the difference,” Bryan Andaya, COO at L&L Hawai‘i, said in a statement. “Restaurants are still standing on their last leg, and with federal stimulus drying up, we’ll need to see foot traffic come back soon to prevent another round of industry-wide closures and layoffs.”

Jason Ubay is a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Send your story ideas to him at jubay@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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