Hawaii County’s mayor draws heat for seeking ‘exemptions’ to stay-at-home order

Hawaii County’s mayor draws heat for seeking ‘exemptions’ to stay-at-home order

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the Hilo Farmers Market, business has fallen by up to 80%.

The crafts and retail side shut down over the weekend while the remaining produce vendors are set up 6- to 10-feet apart. Workers wear gloves, masks and are using a spraying bleach solution on surfaces.

The efforts show how many on the Big Island are taking coronavirus seriously.

But in other ways, residents say, the county is behind.

And some are blaming that on Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, who has resisted pressure to get tough on businesses and enforce the statewide stay-at-home order.

“It’s just been really really hard to support him in his decisions and his lack of decisions,” said Darde Gamayo, a resident of Honokaa.

Kim, meanwhile, insists he’s working with Gov. David Ige but asking for “flexibility” not exemptions.

“We wanted to point out that bookstores, bicycle shops and garden shops and those things, we would like to be put on essential list and I think most of it has been adjusted to and will take a better look at it,” said Kim.

The CDC says older adults and those with serious underlying health conditions are most at risk of COVID-19.

Kim is 80 and has been hospitalized in the past for heart attacks.

Hawaii News Now asked him why he isn’t working at home.

“People pointed out to me many, many times that I am 80 years old that I’ve had more than health issue, heart being one of them," he said.

“First of all, I would never jeopardize family or workers if I was a threat to them as far as the virus. If you question any of the workers here, I feel very good.”

As for Kim’s political career, he told Hawaii News Now that he still hasn’t made a decision on whether he’ll run for mayor again. This is after he’s been been promising for weeks that he’d make an announcement soon.

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