Health Department Warns Restaurants and Bars: Take Precautions or Risk Shutdown

The Hawai‘i Health Department announced it will inspect and close restaurants that aren’t maintaining physical distancing, mask-wearing and other COVID-19 precautions.
color coded placard
courtesy of hawai‘i department of health


Next time you wear your mask and keep your distance when you grab a drink or dinner at your favorite restaurant, know that you’re not only keeping the community safer, you’re helping the business stay open.


The state Health Department’s Food Safety Branch said July 9 it will begin to temporarily suspend operations of restaurants, bars, markets and other food establishments that don’t comply with the safety procedure mandates outlined in May.


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Officials say a first violation would result in a warning. A second violation would prompt a red placard being posted that immediately closes the business.


Health director Bruce Anderson says the department is taking these steps to enforce measures known to be effective in preventing the transmission of the disease, “especially as we have seen a recent increase in the number of COVID cases and evidence of community spread.”


Anderson says most food establishments in Hawai‘i are trying their best to comply with health guidance. “Nevertheless, we feel these steps are necessary to assure all restaurants and other food establishments are doing everything they can to protect the health of the public and their employees,” he said in a statement.


The state sends out news releases when it issues the red placards. A food establishment may request a reinspection and review to safely reopen their operations.


Under the color-coded system for sanitation and safe food-handling, the state can issue green, yellow or red cards. But the state says there is no yellow placard issued for not complying with these mandates.