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Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Satellite city halls stay closed for now; most services available online or by mail

Question: That’s great they’re opening the DMVs on a limited basis, but what about the satellite city halls?

Answer: No, Honolulu County’s satellite city halls are not reopening at this time, even by appointment. However, the services they provide generally are available online, by mail or at another location, according to the city’s website. For example, use of grocery store kiosks for motor vehicle registration has risen during the pandemic.

For more information about how to handle common tasks, go to and click on the link describing “changes to operations.” Or, call the satellite services information line at 768-3798. Although closed to in-person visits, staff are working behind the scenes.

As you indicated, Honolulu County’s driver’s license centers have reopened, by appointment only and with physical distancing measures in place. Customers must wear a face mask and stay 6 feet apart.

Initially, the reservation system at is limiting appointments to people whose Hawaii driver’s license or state ID expires in June 2020, which includes credentials bearing a March 2020 expiration date; the state previously extended expiration dates 90 days by emergency proclamation. Soon, reservations will open to those with July 2020 expiration dates, which includes April 2020 expiration dates that were extended, the city said.

Anyone who doesn’t meet those parameters, but has a hardship or special need, can call the Appointment Assistance Hotline at 768-4177 for guidance. That number also is available to people who meet the parameters but need help making an appointment. Kokua Line readers have for years urged the city to add a telephone line for people who lack a computer or smartphone to make an AlohaQ appointment, so this is a welcome addition that we hope will persist after the pandemic’s emergency operations end.

Q: Now that the DMV has reopened to a certain extent, when will the unemployment office? My clients speak limited English and should not have to proceed through this process entirely online, with no access to assistance in person and little to no access to assistance over the telephone.

A: It’s unclear at this point.

Scott Murakami, director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, was asked during Tuesday’s COVID-19 Care Conversation ( when the unemployment office would reopen to in-person visits, but provided no timeline.

The main factors in the decision are assuring the safety of staff and the public, he said, referring to risk factors associated with the novel coronavirus.

He said the department is looking into an online reservation system that would allow in-person visits by appointment only — as Honolulu County’s driver’s license centers offer — but did not say when such a system would be available.

On an average day, about 300 people statewide are processing unemployment claims, he said. Of a total 251,418 claims filed since March 1 statewide, 186,756 have been processed, and 64,662 have yet to be completed, he said. Of the processed claims, 49,568 were denied and 137,188 were paid.

Q: I mailed my paper tax return from the post office on March 11. I still have not received my refund. When I go to the IRS website and fill in the information for “Where is my Refund,” the reply is they have no information about my refund. What should I do?

A: Wait, according to the IRS. The agency hasn’t been processing paper returns since its offices closed due to the pandemic; paper returns will be processed when offices reopen. Electronic filings are being processed as usual; people who haven’t already filed should file electronically.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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