In a significant step toward reopening the local economy, Gov. David Ige today authorized shopping malls and a variety of retail businesses to reopen provided they minimize contact between employees and customers. However, he clarified tonight that Maui and Oahu will not be reopening their malls and retail outlets just yet.
Ige said only four additional coronavirus cases were reported today, which means the state has now had two straight weeks with fewer than 10 new cases reported per day.
“We have some of the lowest numbers of cases in the country, and we have flattened the curve,” Ige said. “Now we can continue our phased approach to reopening our local economy.”
Ige’s seventh supplementary emergency proclamation to cope with the threat of the new coronavirus will allow state residents to leave home to shop at the newly reopened “low risk” businesses starting Thursday, but Ige said the state expects there will be an increase in new COVID-19 cases as the local economy reopens.
He said the new motto is “Safer At Home,” and said people should not be congregating. Shoppers should hit the stores alone or in family groups, and will still be required to wear masks, he said.
This morning Ige announced the retail and mall reopenings without any mention of differences among the counties, and said he had discussed his plans with the mayors. But he apparently encountered some resistance to his plan, and announced tonight that the retail reopenings will be delayed on Oahu and Maui.
His office issued a statement tonight that retail sales will not begin on Oahu until May 15. Shopping malls and most retail and repair shops also will not reopen in Maui County for at least the time being, and a statement from the governor’s office tonight advised residents to check with their respective counties because restrictions “may differ.”
“COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on our economy, and this is the first step in reopening businesses and getting people back to work,” he said.
Ige also warned that if there is a dangerous new wave of illnesses, the state may reverse itself and shut down the businesses again.
Ige last week allowed some estate services, new and used car and truck dealerships, automated service providers, mobile service providers, services provided on a one-on-one basis, florists and public and private golf courses to reopen.
This latest round of reopenings will include nonprofit organizations, nonfood agricultural operations including landscaping and flower farmers, astronomy observatories and their support facilities, car washes and pet grooming services.
Also allowed to reopen will be health care and social assistance businesses, retail businesses and services including apparel and electronics, shopping malls and wholesale and warehousing operations.
The new order excludes restaurants. While takeout and food delivery are permitted in Hawaii, dine-in business likely will require major changes in the restaurants’ operations such as reducing seating to keep patrons at least 6 feet apart.
Ige again said he is reviewing the 14-day quarantine for interisland travel, but did not say when it might end. Ige said Monday the interisland restrictions could be lifted this month, perhaps using a phased approach that may begin with just two islands.
The 14-day domestic and international travel quarantine will continue well after the interisland quarantine is lifted, Ige has said.