Gov. David Ige said this morning that Hawaii’s stay-at-home order will probably be extended past April 30, but said the state is looking at loosening some local restrictions on specific activities such as delays in elective surgeries.
Ige said he has been consulting with the four county mayors, and expects to make an announcement by the end of the week on what sort of extension of the stay-home order the state may impose.
“We are looking at and thinking about how can we in phases restore some areas to normal activity,” Ige said during an online interview as part of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “COVID-19 Care Conversation” on Facebook with Yunji de Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji. “That would help the economy, that would help revenue to government agencies, that would help people maintain their mental health and allow us to sustain the overall social distancing for a longer period of time.”
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Hawaii is tied with Montana for the lowest per capita infection rate in the nation for the new coronavirus, and has been suggested as one location that might soon be able to lift some restrictions on normal activities.
Ige also in the interview today that additional federal support for the states and local governments offers the most promising way for Hawaii to avoid pay cuts or furloughs for the state’s public workers.
The CARES Act approved by the Congress and President Trump on March 27 provided more than $1.2 billion in aid to Hawaii state government and the counties, but Ige has said the state is still confronting a budget shortfall of about $1.5 billion over the next 15 months.
Public worker union leaders said last week the administration proposed a 20% salary cut on most public employees including teachers as early as May 1, and a 10% cut in pay for first responders such as police officers, firefighters, nurses, and emergency medical technicians. However, Ige said last week that no final decision has been made on the pay cuts and he has told the unions that no cuts would be made before June 1.
Ige said today the state anticipates a reduction in revenue for the next six to 18 months, and must take steps to reduce spending to bring it more in line with the revenue coming in.