Ige says he plans to give green light to resume ‘low-contact retail’ operations in Hawaii

Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 3:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor said he plans to give more Hawaii businesses the OK to resume operations as the number of new COVID-19 cases in the islands remains low.

Gov. David Ige said he would issue a new emergency order with the rules as early as Monday afternoon.

The proclamation is poised to allow “low-contact retail” operations to resume, though the exact details weren’t divulged. He also made clear that businesses would be required to maintain social distancing guidelines.

“We are looking at low-contact retail that can execute transactions, minimizing contact between employees and customers,” he said. “We are looking at relaxing the restrictions in a reasonable way.”

Hawaii saw just one new coronavirus case Monday, bringing the statewide total to 621. The governor has said he plans a “phased-in” reopening to prevent a second wave of illness.

The first phase of that reopening started with a handful of businesses, including florists, given the OK to resume operations. Ige has also reopened state beaches, and urged mayors to submit their own plans to him.

The governor’s plan to reopen more businesses comes amid growing concerns about Hawaii’s ailing economy. The unemployment rate — at about 35% — is now the highest in the nation as tourism remains shut down.

White House economic adviser Keith Hassett highlighted the toll the pandemic has taken on Hawaii’s economy in an press availability Monday, saying the problems faced in the islands are far worse than any other states.

This story will be updated.

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