Business leaders say measured approach to reopening is key, but game plan is needed

Coronavirus Pandemic: Hawaii's Response (4/29/2020)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s business leaders agreed Wednesday that the state’s reopening needs to be measured, but they also warned that inaction could trigger more economic pain for Hawaii’s workers.

“If we do take too long to re-open and we don’t do it in a way that’s safe and protects people, we face a generational impact,” said Dr. Mark Mugiisi, president and CEO of HMSA.

Mugiishi, who is on the team of advisors helping to craft and execute the state’s efforts to lift its lockdown, said reopening requires evidence, science and best practices.

Some non-essential businesses like golf courses are already reopening Thursday on Oahu.

But Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara said all Hawaii businesses need a timeline and playbook from the state so they can plan for the short- and long-term.

“There is an urgent desire to get commerce going, open our doors, turn on the lights,” she said.

When asked about the governor’s proposal to cut the pay of teachers and other union workers, developer Stanford Carr said he favored fiscal responsibility and public-private partnerships, but not pay cuts.

“What we need is money supply circulating through our economy,” he said.

The most difficult sector to reopen will likely be tourism.

Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said the tourism industry is already working on hygiene and safety standards to instill confidence once reopening does happen.

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