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Honolulu officials look at allowing restaurants to reopen June 5

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UPDATE 2:25 p.m.

While announcing the extension of his general “stay at home, work at home” order through June 30, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he has asked Gov. David Ige to allow restaurants to reopen for indoor dining by June 5 and will request the state reopen beaches as long as the number of coronavirus cases remain low on Oahu.

The governor asked for more time to consider the restaurant issue, he said.

Currently, restaurants can only be accessed for take-out. He said the city also wants to allow outdoor and sidewalk dining because of the need to space people out.

“Being outdoors is something that is healthy and we have one of the best outdoor environments in the world,” he said at a news conference today.

While his target date is three weeks away, “we wanted to start talking about it now to give that runway that we’ve been told about, that restaurants need in order to ramp up and open up their businesses,” he said.

It will also provide time to observe what the coronavirus infection situation will be like as other retail businesses start opening up beginning Friday, he said.

Dining facilities would need to abide by certain guidelines if they intend to open for indoor service, including having tables at least 6 feet apart, the mayor said.

Both customers and servers would need to wear face coverings, Caldwell said. That’s something other businesses that involve contact with customers are required to follow. Customers would be allowed to remove their face coverings when they sit down to eat, he said.

Staff would need to pre-screened each day, and there would need to be a constant cleaning and disinfecting of tables and other areas used by the public, he said.

Customers may also be required to enter from one entrance and leave out another door, he said.

Caldwell said the city also supports extending the 14-day quarantine for interisland travelers through June 30.

He said beachgoers would still need to keep a 6-foot distance on the beach.

In addition, Caldwell spoke about his concern that airport officials were allowing homeless people who fly in to leave the airport and go to the city’s POST facility, which is a triage area near Honolulu’s airport where the homeless can self-quarantine. He said arriving visitors should also not be allowed to stay in illegal vacation rentals and should only stay in hotels or with family.

Police cannot “babysit” visitors who violate the traveler quarantine, he said.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

Limited use of outdoor sports fields and courts, as well as drive-in religious or spiritual services, will be allowed starting Friday under a new emergency order issued by Mayor Kirk Caldwell today.

The Ho‘ouli Honolulu 2.0 Order, the latest city response to the coronavirus outbreak, allows for one-on-one sports and exercise activities where “it is both possible and reasonable” for participants to maintain 6 feet of physical distance including singles tennis, singles pickle ball, yoga and tai chi. Participants would also be required to wear non-medical grade face coverings.

Still not allowed are one-on-one sports and exercise activities including basketball (one-on-one or team) where it would be difficult to maintain the 6-foot social distancing guidelines.

Also being allowed under the latest order are drive-in services for religious or spiritual services. The order allows service-goers to attend such gatherings provided they drive up in enclosed vehicles and remain in them for the duration of proceedings.

Vehicle windows, sunroofs and convertible tops must remain closed during the entire service, unless the vehicle is parked more than 6 feet away from any other vehicle. Vehicle must also only be occupied by members of the same household or living unit and no food, beverages, equipment, or materials of any kind may be distributed or collected during the service.

Violating of the emergency orders may be punishable as a misdemeanor, with fines of up to $5,000, up to a year in jail, or both.

Under an earlier emergency order, Caldwell announced that most commercial establishments will be allowed to open starting Friday so long as social-distancing and other safety measures designed to lessen the spread of COVID-19 are in place. A key exception is sit-down service at food establishments, an activity that is still disallowed.

Caldwell held a press conference at 1 p.m. today at Honolulu Hale to discuss the updated city response to COVID-19.

Watch the news conference above.

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Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.

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