Gov. David Ige plans to extend Hawaii’s safer-at-home order through June 30, as retailers start to reopen on Friday.
“I’ve told the mayors that my intention is to extend the safer-at-home mandate through the end of June. We will be looking at different components of what that means. Certainly we will be extending the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all travel into the state till the end of June, but there are other businesses and activities … that are medium risk activities that we’ll look at reopening,” Ige said today during a Facebook Live broadcast on COVID-19.
The governor listed examples of medium risk businesses as indoor dining restaurants, hair salons and barber shops.
“Those kinds of spas certainly is more risky, but we’re looking at CDC guidance and other guidelines for ways to keep employees and customers safe in those settings,” he said. “The next round of businesses deal with more risky activity and so I’m working with the mayors to establish policies of how to move forward in that regard.”
However, large gatherings, which are considered high-risk activities, will not be allowed anytime soon.
“It’s still limited to … no gatherings or gatherings only of family members at this point in time,” Ige said. “We are looking and considering when to enlarge the number of people who can gather, but certainly that’s a high-risk activity and we are reluctant to do that until further along.”
Abe Rodriguez, owner of Nueve Salon and Spa, said his small business won’t be able to survive the shutdown if it continues beyond a month.
“I have to call the people I rent from because they haven’t given me any break. If not, I have to go bankrupt. I can’t afford three months of no income and paying rent. We gotta pay big bucks for rent. We need to open,” he said. “I’m not the only one in this situation. We’re a bunch of small hairdressers that own small businesses around town and they don’t want to give us a break.”
Rodriguez, who rents space to nearly a dozen hairdressers and estheticians, is confident that his business can reopen safely, even more so than a retail shop or grocery store.
“In a retail shop or grocery store they don’t know who’s coming to the counter. Ours is return clientele. Those are like our family or friends so they would tell us if they’re sick or not so we have at least that advantage,” he said. “We’re not in a mall (where) all these random people can walk into a business. The longer we keep closed the people who work with me, they’re gonna have to go and provide for their families.”
For the second time in a week, there were no new coronavirus cases reported in Hawaii, with the statewide tally of infections at 637. On Friday, there were no new confirmed cases for the first time in eight weeks, more evidence that Hawaii has “flattened the curve” of the infection rate, though health officials stress that the crisis is not over.
As of today, 57 infections were active cases with a total of 564 patients classified as “released from isolation” since the start of the outbreak — more than 90% of those infected. The state’s coronavirus death toll remained at 17. Of the more than 38,302 COVID-19 tests conducted by state and clinical laboratories, just 1.6% have been positive.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also announced the extension of his “stay at home, work at home” order through June 30, but asked Ige to allow restaurants to reopen for indoor dining by June 5 and to reopen beaches as long as the number of coronavirus cases remain low on Oahu. Outdoor sports fields and courts, as well as drive-in religious or spiritual services are also allowed for limited use starting Friday.
But city council member Kym Pine, chairwoman of the Committee on Business Economic Development and Tourism, said the “dueling” directions from the governor and mayor are confusing the public, which still does not have a clear reopening plan for the economy.
“Many businesses will be closed forever by the end of June. It is time to set a clear plan of testing, tracking and tracing cases, so that we can open safely,” she said. “Hawaii’s economy will never recover if we don’t help businesses soon. The state has moved way too slowly on this.”
Rodriguez added that the lack of clarity on when small businesses like his will be able to open is becoming detrimental.
“There’s gonna be a second wave — there’s no doubt about it — and once we get tourists in, that’s gonna be a third wave. But we need to safely reopen. We can’t close forever. We have to support our families,” he said. “There’s no way we can survive these second or third waves waiting for them to open my business. If I knew for sure it was one month (before reopening), we can cash in our savings, I can stretch it. But we don’t know. They don’t know. I might spend all my life savings and they might extend it.”