A colored placard system could soon identify businesses abiding by COVID precautions

Updated: Jul. 7, 2020 at 10:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There is growing concern among state and county leaders that the rising caseload in the islands and on the mainland could affect Hawaii’s reopening plans.

With fall classes starting up soon and the tourism restart just weeks away, the anxiety is rising.

Leaders have been pleading with people to wear masks and distance themselves. But now, businesses could be held more accountable.

If the state does roll back re-openings, bars and restaurants could be the first on the chopping block.

The Health Department said in the meantime, it plans to hammer down on businesses not complying with safety guidelines.

The department’s Food Safety Branch said once the plan is approved by the Attorney General’s office, details will be released. But it could very well be similar to the health inspection placard system for restaurants and food safety.

Green means everything is good to go; yellow means there’s some work to do; and red means shut down until further notice.

The owner of Murphy's Bar and Grill says the department is going after the wrong people.

“Look at the beaches this weekend, look at Ala Moana Beach Park, tent after tent after tent, no masks, why are they coming after us,” said Don Murphy.

Bill Comerford owns four popular Irish pubs in Honolulu – O’Toole’s, Kelly O’Neil’s, the Irish Rose Saloon & Anna O’Brien’s.

He believes if the state does a total rollback, like what's happening in states like Texas and Florida, most small businesses won't survive.

“When you have people doing it well, commend them and say other people should be following this policy. People who are doing it poorly, I’m sorry, we’ll give you the warning, if you don’t correct within three or five days as they do with the yellow cards, we’re going to close you,” Comerford said. “If you close them, that’ll incentivize the other people to do it well.”

The state’s health experts say not enough people are following the guidelines and believe the virus is more likely to spread indoors.

"I believe we are going to see spikes. We are going to see outbreaks that we didn't anticipate. We are going to see super spreaders coming in. We are going to have clusters of cases associated with different facilities," said State Health Director Bruce Anderson.

“I have obvious concerns about our safety. You can be sure we’re going to revisit the opening plan because people are very nervous,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “I’ll be frank. I think bars are going to be at risk if things don’t change for the better.”

The governor says right now, rollbacks are only a possibility.

“We will continue to involve the mayors and the emergency responders and other leaders in the discussion as we monitor the conditions and consider whether it’s appropriate to rollback different actions taken,” Gov. David Ige said.

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