Survey says Kaua‘i business divided on vaccine mandates

LIHUE — A recent survey revealed that Kaua‘i businesses are divided when it comes to mandates requiring weekly testing or vaccination for employees and vaccine passports for guests.

The 121 businesses that completed the survey, conducted by the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, represent a wide variety of industries from across the island.

“We collected this data in order to help educate our policymakers here on Kaua‘i and across the state. This information has really been used to help inform them on the (attitudes, views, and needs) of the business community here on Kaua‘i,” said Chamber President Mark Perriello.

Employee vaccination

When it comes to requiring employee vaccination, 19% of businesses reported that they already require vaccination for employees. An additional 26.45% are considering the option.

Most businesses, 60.33%, are not currently considering a vaccine requirement for employees. The potential loss of employees due to a mandate and legal concerns ranked the highest among concerns for businesses, including for Andy Evers, general manager at Koloa Landing Resort.

“Labor right now continues to be tight,” Evers said. “And I know we probably have about 20% of our staff that aren’t vaccinated.”

A government mandate would help ease legal concerns for Evers.

“With the federal government mandating (vaccinations for employees and subcontractors), it kind of takes the liability side off the businesses,” Evers said. “We prefer that if there are any mandates that it come from either the county or the federal government.”

Koloa Landing is in favor of vaccine mandates for employees but does not currently require any, Evers said.

“There are a few holdouts (who), for whatever reason, don’t want to get the vaccine. But I think the safety and welfare of all the other associates can outweigh that,” said Evers.

He cited the financial cost of having unvaccinated workers.

“Anytime that we have any contact with a (COVID-19 positive) associate, we are spending $3,000 to $5,000 for (on-site) testing. So, it’s a very expensive thing to not have our associates vaccinated,” said Evers.

Vaccine passports

When asked if Kaua‘i should have a mandate requiring all patrons to restaurants, bars and other venues to show proof of vaccination in order to gain entry, 52.5% of responding business owners supported the idea, while 47.5% opposed it.

There was no notable difference between businesses in the tourism industry and those that are not. This has made it difficult for the chamber to take a firm stance on the topic.

“We currently have not taken a position on a vaccine passport,” Perriello said. “But we’re able to use this information to have robust conversations with our policymakers about a vaccine passport and whether or not it makes sense for our island.”

Some businesses are already required to check the vaccination status of guests.

“Several of our member businesses are contracted with the state to do business, and because of the way they are contracted with the state, they do have to require a vaccine passport for any of their patrons,” said Perriello.

This, Perriello said, has been “very, very difficult for them to implement.”

Masking and social distancing

Less than 10% of respondents said that social distancing and masking requirements have negatively impacted their businesses, while just over 90% responded either that their business was unaffected by the requirement or that the need for masking and social distancing outweighed concerns for their individual business.

The results should not come as too much of a surprise because businesses have been navigating a web of COVID mandates to keep community spread at bay.

“If the virus isn’t contained, then, anytime we have an outbreak where a cluster of people are affected, it can shut down business,” said Evers. “Labor and staffing (are) so tight right now that if you lose two or three associates, then, you know you have to curtail services dramatically. When people are coming in and paying $400 or $500 a night for a hotel room, they expect that level of service. If you can’t provide it, it dramatically affects your business.”

  1. Common sense September 23, 2021 8:18 am Reply

    Are we requiring flu shots for entry too? Stop the madness!

    Covid vaccines do not stop the spread. Just look at Israel!!! UTTER FAILURE.
    Face the facts and get on the right side of history.

    Covid= communism. Wake up sheeple!

    1. douglas henry September 23, 2021 10:04 am Reply

      The Israeli Ministry of Health says that the risk of the unvaccinated getting the virus is 20
      times greater than a vaccinated person.

    2. Common sense ain’t so common September 23, 2021 10:46 am Reply

      It’s not to stop the spread of covid… it’s to limit the amount of people in icu beds so if someone gets into an accident and they need icu care they are able to be taken care of. We all gonna catch covid eventually… but when we do at least we have a better chance of not getting super ill.

      1. KauaiFarmMan September 23, 2021 3:00 pm Reply

        Look at Israel. The most vaccinated country in the world. They have record deaths and hospitalizations. The vaccine plan has not worked. Is it that we just can’t admit this won’t work or people just hate freedom. What a sad world we are choosing to create.

    3. RGLadder37 September 23, 2021 9:31 pm Reply

      Did you say sheep? They are just people who afraid to kill themselves or anybody else that is all. And it is showing up in people’s behavior at airports and thoughts in their personal lives. Really from the stand viewpoints of Israel.

  2. nothings free? September 23, 2021 9:12 am Reply

    Unfortunately “Common sense”, 1t’s a little stretch to expect the majority around us to utilize even a fraction of the Common Sense it would take to understand your perfectly valid point!

  3. Beatrice September 23, 2021 10:06 am Reply

    My husband and I eat out at nice restaurants on the South Side twice a week.

    Restaurant: No Shot, No service!
    Customer: No Problem. I can cook at home and save money. Let’s see which one of us survives.

    1. Guy September 23, 2021 12:16 pm Reply

      “Let’s see which one of us survives.”

      Interesting choice of words

  4. LTEreader September 23, 2021 10:33 am Reply

    “Anytime that we have any contact with a (COVID-19 positive) associate, we are spending $3,000 to $5,000 for (on-site) testing. So, it’s a very expensive thing to not have our associates vaccinated,” said Evers.

    Did you miss the memo that vaccinated can, and do contract COVID too? Do not give your associates a false sense of security if vaccinated. That’s the biggest misconception with this vaccine. What it will do is prevent most from getting very sick and ending up in the ICU. It’s not however the panacea to end spreading the virus.

    1. Truthbetold September 25, 2021 6:32 pm Reply

      Can I just say that my employer spent thousands of dollars also to clean after an employee tested positive. Can I also say, that employee was VACCINATED!

  5. Everythingisawesome September 23, 2021 7:33 pm Reply


  6. That Ladyy September 24, 2021 7:44 am Reply

    Compliance will get you neither freedom nor health.

    Covid is raging in the world’s most vaccinated countries. Colleges where 99% of students and faculty are vaccinated still require masks, social distancing and forbid group gatherings.

    The only people who want this to go on are the petty bureaucrats who get a thrill out of being able to order people around.

    Unfortunately, there are too many of those people around.

    How much of this island works for the government in some capacity?

    Those people see a bright future in more control, more surveillance, more domination and more handouts.

    If this keeps up, everyone who actually produces anything is going to leave.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.