Hawaii businesses ‘anxious to open’ as new COVID-19 cases dwindle

Published: May. 4, 2020 at 10:06 AM HST|Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 10:07 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With car washes and golf courses open on Oahu, state and county leaders are now talking about how to phase-in the reopening of other businesses in Hawaii.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green noted that on a per-capita basis, Hawaii already has one of the lowest rates of coronavirus infections in the country and the number of infections reported daily have been dropping.

And, of the 620 people infected in Hawaii, 544 have recovered.

“That’s a very good situation because as we open up our kamaaina economy that suggests we should be at low risk for additional spread," Green said.

He said over the next few days, there will be talks to further lift restrictions on businesses on a step-by-step basis, starting with other low-risk businesses that don’t require face-to-face contact, then on to medium-risk businesses like retailers and restaurants.

“Because our numbers are so low, that gives us some capacity to push the envelope a little bit and get to the medium risk faster," he said.

Business leaders said they favor this phased-in approach.

“Based on the flattening of the curve, more businesses are anxious to open up. Obviously, every day that goes by businesses are losing money," said Sherry Menor-McNamara, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

But some mayors are urging caution.

“We already know if we reopen too soon, the virus could get a new foothold in our community. We have seen this across the world. Places that have not enacted strict quarantines have seen dramatic levels of disease,” said Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami.

“And many places that reopened their economies too soon ― like Japan and Singapore — have seen a second wave of disease that slammed their healthcare facilities and caused many deaths.”

A spokesman for Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the city will discuss its approach to business reopenings in the next few days.

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