Balancing community health and economic recovery

Posted on Jan 29, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured

Short-Term Recovery Initiatives

The state's Safe Travel Program has helped protect residents and visitors alike.

The state’s Safe Travel Program has helped protect residents and visitors alike.

The struggle for businesses to stay afloat has been daunting at best. Because of this, the state is planning to cover the interest payments on the $700 million DLIR loan on behalf of employers. That amounts to over $165 million that our businesses would otherwise have to make up over the next six years. Hawai‘i has been among the hardest hit states in terms of job losses and economic activity. More than 580,500 Hawai‘i workers filed unemployment claims last year. In the face of a life-threatening virus, where is the sweet spot between ensuring the health of everyone and keeping the economy going? How do we sustain our hotels and small businesses who depend on our visitors?

Last spring in response to COVID-19, we launched a 14-day quarantine for travelers—something that the federal government is now looking to emulate with travel to the U.S.  The quarantine was devastating to our visitor industry. But it was one of our most important tools to stem the pandemic through the summer and fall, when the nation’s infection rate rose exponentially. More importantly, it kept our families safe.  And in the end, I believe, it also saved our reputation as a healthy visitor destination. I believe the key to reviving our economy remains tied to the health of our community, no matter how slow and frustrating the process may be at times.

 

Read more in the February Capitol Connection newsletter.

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