weather icon Mostly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Unemployed Hawaiians getting $500 restaurant cards

HONOLULU — Up to 100,000 Hawaii residents receiving unemployment benefits are expected to receive $500 meal cards for use in restaurants throughout the state.

The money will be distributed through the Restaurant Card Program, which will distribute $75 million in the form of the debit-style cards to people who began receiving unemployment benefits after March 25.

The program, funded by federal coronavirus relief money, is also designed to help restaurants and farmers struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Registration is not required, and those who are eligible should receive cards in the mail over the next few weeks, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii President Sherry Menor-McNamara said.

The nontransferable cards can only be used in restaurants between Oct. 20 and Dec. 15. The cards will pay the cost of meals, including alcohol, Menor-McNamara said.

Rules for in-restaurant dining vary by county.

Economic boost sought

On Oahu, the state’s most populous island, restaurants can operate at up to 50% capacity, with no more than five people from the same household per table. Diners have to make reservations and provide their contact details.

National Restaurant Association figures indicate 60% of restaurants nationwide will not be able to continue to operate without additional support, Menor-McNamara said.

Every dollar spent at a restaurant means $1.82 for Hawaii’s economy and could save 1,000 restaurant jobs, she said, citing University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization data.

“You can certainly see that this program is a win-win situation for the beneficiaries, restaurants and their employees, and the broader supply chain,” McNamara said.

Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, executive director of the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, encouraged island restaurants to develop promotions for people using the cards.

House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti said the state is in need of “creative solutions” like the card program to assist unemployed residents and the restaurant industry.

“The Hawaii Restaurant Card Program targets relief for both communities that have been hurting due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Democrat said in a statement.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Train derails in Mojave Desert near Las Vegas

A long freight train carrying iron ore has derailed in a remote area of the Mojave Desert but authorities say there were no injuries.

Nashville school shooter who killed 6 drew maps

Police say a former student shot through the doors of a Christian elementary school and killed three children after planning the massacre by drawing out a detailed map.

‘Help is on the way’: Daunting tornado recovery in Mississippi

In Rolling Fork, Miss., the tornado reduced homes to piles of rubble and flipped cars on their sides. Other parts of the Deep South were digging out from damage caused by other suspected twisters.

7 victims recovered from chocolate factory blast

By Sunday night, the hope for survivors came to an end, the death toll having risen to seven. The final bodies pulled from the debris were believed to be unaccounted for workers, according to authorities.

Theres nothing left: Deep South tornadoes kill 26

Rolling Fork Mayor Eldridge Walker told CNN that his town was essentially wiped out.

California governor rolls back drought restrictions after remarkably wet winter

Gavin Newsom stopped short of declaring that the drought is over, saying some parts of his drought emergency order remain important as California adapts to volatile weather patterns and the looming possibility of another long dry spell.