With the COVID-19 Delta variant still surging, discussions of mask and vaccine mandates have taken place among local and state governments and private enterprises across the United States and around the globe.
In Hawai’i, a hospitality company has joined the ranks of those requiring vaccines for their entire staff compliment. Merriman’s Hawai’i, which operates four fine dining restaurants across the Aloha State, will require employees to be vaccinated by September—the first company in the hospitality space to mandate vaccines for workers.
“It’s good for business if we can make Hawai’i one of the safest places on earth,” Chef-Owner Peter Merriman told TravelPulse. “We also believe it’s our civic duty to institute this mandate.”
Merriman went on to note that 70% of the staff at Merriman’s Hawai’i locations are already vaccinated. Employees are required to receive the first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the single Johnson & Johnson dose by September 10. Second doses of vaccines that require them are due by October 8.
Employees, who have already undergo daily health checks, must show proof of vaccination, and Merriman’s Hawaii will provide a shift off with pay for employees to recover from any side effects of the vaccines. Other incentives, such as dollars to use within the Merriman’s brand, are also being offered for vaccinated employees.
“I have always been a fan of Merriman’s and now have even more reason to celebrate how they always put Hawai’i first,” said Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Josh Green. “I’m proud Merriman’s is helping lead the charge to make Hawai’i safe for everyone during the pandemic. Let’s show our support for Peter Merriman and his team by commending them with their thoughtful action.”
In addition to requiring staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Merriman’s restaurants also have outdoor or open-air seating options and tables spaced at least six feet apart. Masks are required when not eating or drinking, hand sanitizer stations are available.
Peter Merriman is considered one of the founding chefs of the Hawai’i Regional Cuisine movement that focuses on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients prepared in a fusion between the state’s local food culture and classic culinary techniques, melding the bounty of Hawai’i with the cooking traditions of Europe and the Pacific Rim.
Chef Merriman opened his first Hawai’i restaurant on Hawai’i Island in 1988. The group now comprises four restaurants in Waimea, Hawai’i; Kapalua, Maui; Honolulu, O’ahu; and Po’ipu, Kaua’i.
Hawaii-based employers such as state and county governments and Hawaiian Airlines have already announced they will require vaccines for their employees. Global corporations WalMart and United Airlines—which also have significant Hawaii workforces—will also require the vaccine among their workers.
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