A $500 restaurant card is being mailed to unemployed people in Hawaii that can be used on food orders — including alcohol and the tip

  • The Hawaii Chamber of Commerce will be giving out $500 gift cards for unemployed Hawaii residents to use at restaurants as a way to help bolster the state's economy.
  • The cards, valid from October 20 to December 15, can cover the entire restaurant bill, including alcohol purchases and a tip.
  • The cards will be sent out automatically to those who qualify.
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Those who are unemployed in Hawaii will soon be getting some additional relief in the form of a new restaurant card.

The state's Chamber of Commerce will use $75 million of its CARES Act money to give $500 debit cards to residents who have qualified for unemployment insurance since March 25 and are still receiving money, according to KHON2, a local Fox/CW affiliate. The cards can be used only at restaurants within the state.

According to Honolulu Civil Beat, around 100,000 people will be getting these cards. Officially called the Hawaii Restaurant Card. which work much like gift cards, and when funds are depleted, they will not be replenished. The money can be used for the entire restaurant bill, including alcohol purchases and the tip.

The hope for these cards is that it will help put some money back into the local economy by not only helping restaurants but also "local farmers" and other parts of the supply chain.

"According to the UHERO study that evaluated the program, it would nearly double its economic impact for our local businesses," said Sherry Menor McNamara, president of Hawaii's Chamber of Commerce, told KHON2.

There is no need to apply for the card.

The restaurant cards are part of a larger initiative to get the state's economy moving again, as the state recently announced that visitors who have provided a negative COVID-19 test can skip quarantine.

Some business owners said they hope the money will stay within the state.

"There's a lot of businesses that are that are here locally that are not local businesses so I hope that people also take that into account," Keola Warren, who runs a bed & breakfast on the island of Oahu, told KHON2. "By going to a mom and pop, or by going to a locally owned business, that money stays in our local economy."

Recipients will have from October 20 to December 15 to use the cards.

So far, Hawaii is the only state offering this sort of incentive to unemployed residents as a way to provide monetary relief and also help the local economy.

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