‘A long way to go’: Hawaii leaders still looking into when, how to reopen for business

Updated: Apr. 17, 2020 at 6:39 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - President Donald Trump has laid out a road map for reopening the economy, but Hawaii leaders are still figuring out when and how the state can meet the criteria.

In a news conference Thursday, Gov. David Ige said Hawaii has made progress fighting the spread of COVID-19, but the state does not yet meet the guidlines for a “phased” re-opening.

He also indicated the order would likely not be fully lifted by the end of month.

“We will begin to think about how would we relax the mandates,” he said. “Should there be an outbreak, we will have to ratchet up the social distancing measures again.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also said when it’s time to begin reopening Oahu, it will be a deliberate process of gradual changes.

In a press conference Thursday, he outlined the criteria for lifting the city’s stay-at-home order, saying it will be done in phases as it’s safe to do so.

“This is not about ripping off the Band-Aid,” Caldwell said.

“As we go forward over many, many months, the stay-at-home/work-at-home order will remain in place but will be modified. It has to be thought out. It has to be very careful and ... based on science."

Caldwell said the city is looking at four criteria as it determines how to modify the stay-at-home order:

  • Whether cases are going down as testing continues to go up;
  • Whether the healthcare system has sufficient personal protective gear;
  • Whether there is a robust contact tracing system in place;
  • Whether society is ready, including by maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask.

The state also has its own stay-at-home order, which goes through April 30.

The stay-at-home order, aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, has shuttered hundreds of businesses and hotels, closed schools and prompted tens of thousands of people to work at home.

[Read more: Trump gives governors 3-phase plan to reopen economy]

The discussion over how to reopen the Hawaii’s economy comes as the islands is reporting 11 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 541.

The vast majority of those cases ― 373 ― were reported on Oahu.

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The 11 new cases, Ige said, “give us grounds for optimism. But we still have a long way to go."

The CDC has also laid out its own criteria for states looking to lift shutdown orders.

This story will be updated.

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