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Thank you to 808 Viral for posting this.
KAUAI’s economy has been hit hard. Their small business community has been devasted. Uncle Kenny of ONO’s Family Restaurant talked to us about how he finally had to close after 40 years in business.
We have been receiving a lot of messages from all islands, sharing how they have been affected by COVID. If you have a story to tell, let us know.
Video by: Dani Tow and Jeff Orig
I love him so much because he speaks from the heart snd he speaks the truth-thank you.
Heartbreaking, I pray Kauai will open for tourism soon.
We have a vacation rental in Kauai. Over this las year we have not been able to rent it at all which we depend on to help cover some of the costs of the condo. In addition to our personal losses, we have a management co that Employed over a dozen people who have mostly been laid off.
it is terrible to see the island that we love and have invested in loose so many small businesses that may never come back. I can imagine that there are many foreclosed condos also.
This is terrible for the economy and people. Where is the balance? How can it be that Kauai can have such restrictive policies when all the other islands dont?!
From a friend:
Just received this message from Crystal at Kauai Juice, she asked to copy and send to anyone and everyone🤍:
Power in numbers on this one. Please spread the word to anyone you know who wants to open up!
Aloha fellow business owners. This text is to help spread the word. We will be gathering this Wednesday at 3pm at vidinha stadium parking lot. The goal is to get together as many people as possible in support of opening up our island. Our business’s are struggling, and therefore our families, employees, and community are taking what seems like a never ending beating. Many of us won’t be able to stay open without a plan from the county. Our hope in coming together is to show support for each other as well as get our voices heard that the island needs to reopen, and reopen soon. Addison Boulison will be leading this meeting. The first 30 minutes will be him speaking thru a mic and gathering statistical / factual information as well as testimonies from the business’s that will be there. After that you are free to stay as the floor will be open. But the first portion is the most important as we strategize how we are going to move forward.
If you want Kauai to reopen for your business or your friends business it is VERY important that you attend this meeting in person so that we can show our county how many people are needing this to happen before some of us close for good.
Please feel free to bring your employees and spread the word to anyone you can. We need your help.
Good morning, I will share my story as a single, older woman business owner on Kauai. I own Trees Lounge inc. Trees Lounge ,bar and restaurant with 12 employees, was closed for business March 20/2020 due to covid mandates. Because our location with Aston Islander on the Beach and Kapaa Shores , tucked away from mainroads , there was no point to open for take out. The county seemed to think that every restaurant could be take out and serve local community. That was wrong, We are a late night,live music venue and “late night” would have been allowed to 10pm, with no indoor music, no dancing, no bar. So we tried to servive,paying all the insurance, permits , power , maintain the equipment , pay the land lord all CAM , each month for 8 months, waiting each month for the mayor to lift some mandates, it did not happen so I ran out of money and had to give the restaurant space with all my assets to my landlord, Trees Lounge is gone,so is income to many local men and women. I am upset and sad. We employed NOT only the servers, cooks and bartenders but local musicians, I keep contact with many of them , they have no work, some older Hawaiian musicians retired as they miss performing . I also own small shop in Kapaa town, I put all “tourist” type inventory in the back after we closed for business March 2020. I brought in my personal antiques and junk to sell to the locals at cheap price and marked the whole store at 50% off ! Just to generate some food money for the family. I was closed for months and now open few hours a day , the town is empty and Kauai Residents , customers are out of MONEY ! Please Mayor , open up the island so we can feel like humans again, standing behind the counter in an empty store , waiting for that 1 customer 2 if we are lucky , to walk in to buy half off item , is absurd ! We , us , business owners pour our hearts and souls to our businesses , to serve the people, that is what customer service is and is taking risks , we understand that, BUT almost a year, month after month waiting to get an answer HOW TO STAY IN BUSINESS is too much of risk taking, we needs answers . The residents need jobs so take can have buying power to support us again.
I am so sorry to hear this about Trees Lounge
-this was a welcoming place that I could come to with my nurse co -workers,and at the same time enjoy Hawaiian music. I enjoyed the experience with visitors of all ages,collectively,enjoying life.
Thank you for sharing your story. We need to make this right.
I recently traveled back home to Kauai and opted for the 10 day quarantine program instead of using an alternate means of circumventing the 10 day program. I did not want to spend 3 days on Oahu or spend 3 days in a resort bubble. During my quarantine, I was physically checked on once by the national guard midway during the quarantine period. Later the same day, I checked into the Safe Travels website to do my daily check-in and discovered I was now considered an “exempted” person, no longer required to quarantine or check into the website. I never applied for exemption and was content to do the 10 day quarantine. So my question is how is this program working? Who is monitoring the quarantine? Why did I suddenly become and “exempted” person?
I have kept relatively silent on this topic for almost a full year now. As I am sure there will be those who will angrily berate me for the following statements. However my hope is that it will encourage an open dialouge with a path to actually help all of us not just some of us.
As this is getting beyond ridiculous…
The good of our community entails far more than burying our collective heads in the sand. We all deserve better and more of a proactive comprehensive strategy for returning our lives to some sense of normalcy.
Emergency Powers should be temporary and not open ended. Something must be done to end the stranglehold and fear mongering we are being held captive by.
We need leadership that is receptive to all points of view and willing to make COMPRISES that will help the entire community.
Nothing has been done to actually shore up our “limited resources” (ICU beds) in the event there was actually a need for it. Which there has not been even when our cases were briefly on the rise. 99% of the people who had contracted C-19 were easily able to stay at home during revovery.
However plenty of resources have been expended upon projects such as skate parks, basketball courts, restaurant cards even though many have had to close, and more such items that have done nothing to assist with actually reopening our community. The “Resort Bubble” is an obvious failure. As is making our own residents also forced to participate in that or stopping on another island for 3 days upon return home vs being able to Quarantine at home for 3 days and then test again.
Our community is suffering incomprehensible damage from the lack of our economic lifeblood… tourism. The homeless population is soaring due to the unemployment level skyrocketing. More people have committed suicide here than have died from this virus. Mental, physcical and emotional wellness have all declined with the rise of depression and dependence upon the government to provide sustenance.
Yet the solution continues to be the path below? This path will continue to decimate small businesses and large alike. Leading us into an economic depression level event. That will kill far more people than this virus will. Look up the Great Depression to see the kind of effects that had on people.
Do something simple even. Reopen Kauai without all of the restrictions placed upon residents and businesses alike, keep Safe Social Distancing in play, REJOIN the State’s Safe Travels Plan and then monitor and limit daily/ weekly/ monthly tourism #s to 50% of 2019’s capacity.
That simple action plan alone would put us on the right path.
In response to the article posted….And remember all the closed businesses/ businesses, like myself- Sarahs Sweet Scrubs (you all know who I am as I have been fighting this since day 1) that moved off island not in that 200 group. The closed is more than 65. This is criminal and he is a tyrant. And downright CREEPY he wrote an article, that his office calls the police when a concerned citizen calls asking questions, that he blocks his own friends and members of his community on the phone, social media etc. This is a dictatorship where he thinks he is the king. He has already lied countless times- note- he WILL NOT BE TRANSPARENT AND TRUTHFUL, HIS WORDS ARE ONLY MEANT TO SILENCE AND PLACATE THE COMMUNITY, THE HAWAII KAUAI GOVT IS NOT THERE TO HELP YOU AND DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THESE BUSINESSES OR THE PPL- unless 90% of the population is Vaxxed. What is upsetting is those, like myself, who have been fighting this tyranny and forced poverty since day 1 only to get doxxed and abused by the community.
Although I live on a different island, the tyranny, mandates and closures more than a year later are absolutely absurd.
One common theme I see here is that people are “afraid” to speak up. Why is this? Because your neighbor might find out you are upset?
Speak up, speak out loud. This is your life and future one man has control of. After the dust settles you may be sorry you didn’t speak up earlier.
This nonsense has got to end. It is painfully obvious this is no longer about a virus, but about an intentional push to change the island(s). It doesn’t appear for the better either. Locals and the middle class will be pushed out for wealthier people. Kawakami will no doubt benefit financially from kickbacks that may have already been established through “bubbles” and future “Covid related” endeavors.
The Constitution does provide for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. While there are State rules for ” public health”, I am confident a year’s long mandate was not what was meant.
Especially mandates not based on any science. Society ending would be one thing, but it is obvious Covid will not be the end of society.
I am not promoting violence of any kind, but maybe a visit to the Kawakami residence to voice your concerns would be warranted?
We’ve done everything we can to keep cases down. Thousands of people have lost their jobs, businesses, hours, and salaries. Hundreds are homeless or on the verge of losing their home. People are leaving our island as homelessness is on the rise.
Our largest resorts have been shut down or operating at less than 20% occupancy. Bubble resorts make up a very small percentage of total hotel inventory so the “results” of resort bubbles may be skewed by this.
We need to opt back in to the Safe Travels program immediately to allow our infrastructure time to rebuild while airlines are slowly adding flights.
It is heartbreaking that I have actually worked shoulder to shoulder with other professionals in hospitality who now live in their cars or are bouncing from home to home because they simply can’t make enough to keep a roof over their heads…. now, many of them don’t even know where their next meal is coming from,
Each month, we lose more and more business due to the current quarantine rules. In our attempt to keep Covid at bay, our community is slowly dying from a collapse in our economy. We need to establish some transitional ground to start rebuilding immediately.
The county went against its own stringent guidelines and has not given clear communication since.
On October 2nd 2020 Mayor Kawakami released his tier system. Many on Kauai were worried that it was simply too strict and would lead to an early exit of the safe travels program. The most restrictive step, Tier 1, would go into effect when there’s a one-week average of eight or more cases per day registered on the island. This would lead to an exit of the safe travels program and bring back mandatory quarantine. After seven months of being closed local businesses began to see revenue and guests booking for the holiday season. Closed restaurants reopened, purchased perishable goods and brought back staff. The Hyatt our largest private employer reopened. We were on the road to overall wellness again.
From October 15th to November 24th the island saw 58 cases. Well below the one week average of eight cases per day that would lead to an exit of safe travels. The Mayor went completely against the strict tier system he and his team created and decided to close the island almost immediately. Residents had three business days to get tests and get home. Businesses saw revenue that would have saved them evaporate. We followed the plan, we socially distanced and wore masks but none of it mattered. Mayor Kawakami decided that he knew what was best for the islands residents.
He and his team did not trust Josh Green and the numbers being reported. They believed the rest of Hawaii would see a huge outbreak and have to close again. They believed the Lt. Governor was cooking the books and reporting numbers that were skewed. They were wrong, Oahu welcomed back tourists and saw a consistent decline in hospitalizations. Cases there are low and getting lower while people are getting back to work. Meanwhile on Kauai businesses are closing for the second time after realizing that the ‘resort bubble’ program has brought no meaningful business back to Kauai. Honolulu incoming passenger numbers are roughly 55-60% of where they were last year at this time, Kauai is around 8%. Meanwhile the Mayor is quoted as saying “Our goal is always to base our schedule on level of acceptable risk”. He gives no tangibles or science based numbers to plan our reopening.
How can Kauai businesses and residents plan their road to recovery when they cannot trust our Mayor and his team? We went against his strict Covid-19 tier system after less than two months. He has given no clear plan on Kauai’s return to the safe travels plan. He and his team do not openly discuss with residents on the platforms it posts on.
Open and honest communication need to start now and the people of Kauai need to demand it.
My name is Sonja Cabebe. I was born here in 1975. I started in the visitor industry at age 15 – working as a crew hand on the Na Pali boats. The visitor industry has been my livelihood ever since. I started as a Concierge at Hanalei Bay Resort in 2002 and then in 2013 I opened my own business “Kauai Vacation Activities”.
Sharing Kauai with the families that come here on their much needed vacations means so much to me. These people are having an experience of a lifetime and I get to be part of that. I get to hear about how they are finally unplugging from their busy lives and making much needed connections with their parents and children. They come to our island to get away and have fun, but they also come here to heal.
My company is partnered with 50+ activity companies on the island. These are owner operated companies (Kauai grown), many of them have their families serving as staff members.
Kawakami’s extra rules and extended shutdown has affected us all so much. Myself and my partners have had to lay people off with no idea of when we can let former staff members know they can work again.
We keep spending money we don’t have in operating costs with hopes of not having to shut down all together.
Seeing that the Hawaii Safe Travels program is a success and working for other islands, but knowing we don’t get to participate in it, is a hard hit. As Hawaii citizens we are not given the same opportunity as neighboring island residents.
The misleading information given by our Mayor, regarding why him and his advisors choose to keep us shut down, is an insult to my intelligence as well as to my character.
I am trying to understand why educated people at the State level are not stepping in to help us. If Kauai is being set apart, and not able to participate in the pre-testing travel program, then should there not be a special support system specific to the island of Kauai to keep its workers afloat? There are only State programs that serve all islands, no special help for the Kauai residents.
I don’t want a hand out.. I want to earn an honest living. I don’t want to have to move away from the place I have always called home. Please give me a chance.
Why the resort bubble? My husband and children were stuck on the Princeville side of Hanalei Bridge when it closed due to flooding a few weeks back (we live in Hanalei). They went to the Cliffs’ at Princeville (which is currently a Resort Bubble accommodation) to rent a unit for the night until the bridge opened the following day. They were checked in- able to mingle with all of the visitors that were there doing their ‘3 day quarantine’- they were able to sit in the hot tub next to these folks, swim in the same pool- socialize as they pleased. The next morning they checked out. What the heck is this resort bubble for? It serves NO PURPOSE other then to keep 92% of visitors off our island! I had friends visiting Kauai and they chose to stay at the Koa Kea resort in Poipu (resort bubble) to do their ‘3 day quarantine’- during their stay I had a few mutual fiends that all went to Koa Kea to have dinner with them- swim in the pool and visit in their room. Resort Bubble, for what??? Derek Kawakami has alternative motives- there has to be some financial gain that he is getting to be resorting to this ridiculous option! What I want to know is how many people have tested ‘positive’ after being in the resort bubble? What happens next- all the other guests in the resort bubble get to exit and travel the island or all they all subject to quarantine for 10 days? The resort bubble to me seems to be much more of a ‘Covid spreading’ situation – sad & scary times for the people of Kauai. Mayor please address our questions, please answer our needs, please do your job!
EXACTLY!!! My sister is currently on this beautiful island.. she has been basically “stranded” for almost 3 weeks. They were staying in a “Bubble Hotel”–check out time was 2:00, but they couldn’t get tested until 6:00 PM. They checked out and just hung around. My brother in law tested “positive”…they immediately checked them back into their room they were staying in. When they got into the room it had been “cleaned” waiting for another hotel guest to occupy it. She said it was so dirty. She found some of her clothes she left, and other small items. Hadn’t really been cleaned. Also, like you stated, for the 3 days prior to being tested, they were able to mingle with other guests. She said they didn’t even sanitize the pool chairs or anything!! For an island that is living in complete fear over this virus, you’d think they’d take more care into cleaning and sanitizing things better. This just makes you believe that all these “bubble hotels” are to benefit someone’s pocket!!! It’s been a COMPLETE JOKE!!!!! My heart hurts for the small businesses trying to survive!
Why the resort bubble?
Because Kawakami is obviously getting some form of kickback. All your thoughts on mingling with “quarantine” people is spot on and an obvious observation that goes over most peoples head.
None of the mandates, restrictions, bubbles etc. have made any sense. One can poke holes in every aspect of Kawakami’s ideas.
While at first, we were all concerned about this virus, it over time has not been as deadly as we originally feared. With a 99.97% survival rate, the measures are out of proportion to the threat and have become more dangerous than the virus. Our two-weeks lockdown has passed the one-year mark and the economic, and psychological toll is devastating, not to mention all the health issues created by that stress. There will ALWAYS be viruses and risks in life. Let’s all stay safe by taking our vitamins D, zinc, A, and quercetin, and get back to creating a thriving business community full of the things we enjoy.
I have a vacation rental business and my rental happens to be in a resort bubble. While one would think that means I am back in business after being closed for a year, what it really means is that I spend all day explaining the complications of quarantine requirements to prospective visitors. I spoke to at least 25 parties in the last 2 weeks. Almost all of them once they hear the drill, say they will just go to another island. I put in 30 hours of work and I got one 3 day reservation. Honestly, I wonder if our mayor would have the same policy if he was not getting a paycheck like the rest of us. The resort bubble is not working for anyone.
I am concerned for our community and started http://www.PandemicOfLoveKauai.com We are matching those financially affected by COVID and in need with those who can help their neighbors with a donation. If you can donate or need help, please fill out a form on the website. We have managed to help 130 people so far. We are so fortunate to have aloha and generous compassionate souls who know we have to take care of our neighbors, but it would be preferable if we could go back to being able to take care of ourselves. Mahalo.
One of my best friends in the world Cam Hoffer, suicide at his house in Kalaheo early October of 2020. I have been one of his best friends for 4 years. We met surfing at Waihai one day for a sunset sesh. He finally got his captain license at the beginning of 2020, but due to the over-the-top regulations on tourism he actually lost his job as even a crewman on a Na Pali boat. Can’t blame the boat company, its not his fault there’s no tourists. Kawakami on the other hand… Cam surfed at Waiohai/first break at least a few times a week if not daily. He was a legend in my eyes and will forever be missed.
We went to San Diego together once for 2 weeks and stayed with my family. They all loved him. Rip Cam and I hope the officials contributing to these over reaching regulations in Kauai can look in the mirror someday and reconcile what they have actually contributed to, in the name of protecting us while also not letting the people of Kauai make their own decisions, otherwise known as living in tyranny.
While right now they have this imaginary cape of savior on, just hope that false image will fade as fast as it came on. The mayor might not see it like he contributed to the suffering, but he’s pushing these lockdowns and unlike THE PEOPLE, Kawakami isn’t losing his paychecks over the decision while he live-streams #stayhomekauai all smiles. Him and Ige, but for Kauai locals especially Kawakami, need to be held accountable for what I am sure is more than an outlier scenario with Cam. Suicide not making the headlines, but seems like something we should focus on.
Very sad story,situation. So many people are silently suffering on Kauai,especially young people.