Gov. David Ige said he plans to sign an emergency proclamation today that will allow “low-contact” retailers to reopen as long as they can minimize contact between employees and customers to protect them against the new coronavirus.
Speaking at his daily briefing at the state Capitol, Ige said the retailers are included in the first phase of a plan to cautiously and safely reopen the economy.
“We intend to reopen all phases of our economy,” the governor said. “It is about balancing the risk.”
Ige did not specifically say which retailers would be allowed to reopen. However, he added that only businesses capable of maintaining proper social-distancing measures or conducting business online or at curbside are being considered.
Earlier in the day, he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s COVID-19 Care Conversation webcast that nonfood production agriculture, such as flower farmers, likely would be among the first businesses allowed to reopen under his phased plan.
Ige also said a select number of state parks would be reopened to allow people to exercise. The move echoes the actions of the state’s mayors, who previously allowed county parks to reopen.
The governor said only state parks big enough to allow for proper social distancing would be on the first-phase reopening list.
“It’s outdoors, and the risk of infection is low as long as it’s not large gatherings,” he said.
Ige said restaurants would not be among the businesses listed in today’s proclamation. He said they likely would be opened in later phases.
Ige said his administration is working with the Hawaii Restaurant Association to examine the best practices of other communities and states.
While takeout and delivery are already permitted in Hawaii, dine-in business likely would require reducing seating by 50% or 25% in order to keep patrons at least 6 feet apart, he said.
Earlier, Ige said he would start reopening the economy only if there was a declining trend in COVID-19 cases, along with enough capacity in the health care system and a robust testing program. He said those things have come to pass.
“Things are getting better every day. The numbers continue to look very good. With only one new case announced today, we are confident we have flattened the curve,” he said Monday.
But Ige cautioned that he would reinstate restrictions if there was a surge in cases.
Ige said he would look at reopening various sectors of the economy during May and would consider only businesses that can keep both employees and customers safe.
Ige last week gave the green light to certain real 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.
Ige’s point man on COVID economic recovery, Alan Oshima, has asked all Hawaii businesses and industries to envision what their sectors would look like in the post-COVID era, he said.
He said the plan is to focus first on businesses and organizations with the lowest risk from a health perspective and then expand to medium- and high-risk concerns.
Ige also said Monday that he would consider dropping the 14-day quarantine for interisland travel sometime this month. He said details still need to be worked out, but he is considering a phased approach that would see travel to only two islands at the start.
He said he is talking to the airlines to determine what is realistic from their perspectives. Opening interisland travel also might require coordination with hotels, he said.
The 14-day domestic and international travel quarantine would continue well after the interisland quarantine is lifted, Ige said.