HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A sweeping “stay-at-home” order went into effect early Wednesday as part of an aggressive push to stop the spread of coronavirus in the islands.
On Wednesday, the streets of Waikiki were virtually empty — a rare and sobering sight as tourismin the state’s top destination ground to a virtual standstill.
“It’s scary," said resident Regina Naylor, who was in Waikiki on Wednesday. “I worry about the people who work here."
Another resident in the area called the scene “apocalyptic.”
Honolulu police cars could also be seen roaming Kalakaua Avenue — and officers made announcements over PA systems, telling all non-essential workers to leave the area and saying that all beach parks were closed.
The governor’s state-wide stay at home mandate remains in effect through April 30.
And it’s meant to stop all but those activities deemed essential ― a broad term that includes everything from healthcare operations to grocery shopping and car repair to walks and surfing.
“You should stay at home," Gov. David Ige said, at a news conference Monday. "If you need to go to work, you should go to work. And when you’re done with work, you should come back home.”
The mandate, issued through emergency proclamation, is in addition to the mandatory, 14-day quarantine for all incoming visitors and returning residents ― which is set to go into effect Thursday.
- More than 60,000 people have filed for unemployment in Hawaii this month
- Streets and beaches are now empty in the state’s no. 1 tourist destination
- State backtracks on first COVID-19 death, says test results were ‘misread’
- Hawaii public school campuses to remain closed through April 30
- More hotels closing their doors as coronavirus restrictions widen
The governor said that taken together, the measures will bring the state’s already limping tourism industry to a standstill and dramatically alter daily life for Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents.
“These actions are extreme but necessary for us to flatten the curve and lay the groundwork for our recovery,” Ige said. “The threat of COVID-19 is unprecedented.”
He said the stay-at-home order would be enforced initially with warnings, but fines could follow.
“We do understand that a stay-at-home order has never been implemented in our communities,” Ige said. “We do know that enforcement will be a challenge. I would like to say that when we first announced these actions, the compliance has been overwhelming.”
The stay-at-home order comes as the number of cases of coronavirus in Hawaii continues to swell.
And it comes amid growing concerns about how Hawaii hospitals will be able to handle the health crisis. Over the weekend, Hawaii medical professionals said they were heartened by efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus, but worried the orders were confusing and didn’t go far enough.
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This story will be updated.