HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A spokesperson for Mayor Caldwell’s office says Gov. David Ige has officially signed off on a new stay-at-home order that will now be in effect for Oahu residents by 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning.
The order, which was described as similar to the one issued in March, will remain in place for two weeks. It allows essential businesses to stay open, including child care and some educational services, construction, and health care. Religious services will also be allowed.
But businesses not considered essential will have to close.
The list of non-essential businesses includes retailers, personal services (like salons and barber shops), gyms, and restaurants, which will have to revert to takeout only. Beaches and parks will also remain closed.
The order comes three weeks after bars were shut down on Oahu and more than two weeks since the state and city shut down all beaches and parks on Oahu in what authorities called a “scalpel” approach.
But Caldwell said those “strategic” actions haven’t worked.
“Now we’ve taken this more drastic measure and it does have an impact on business. I know it’s a struggle,” Caldwell said, adding the city will add another $25 million to a business relief program.
Gov. David Ige joined Caldwell at a news conference on Tuesday, when the order was first announced, saying the “stay-at-home” order was needed because daily, triple-digit increase in new coronavirus infections were putting “stress on our healthcare system.” He added, “Re-implementing a stay-at-home order is what Oahu needs at this time.”
But it was not immediately clear why the governor waited at least 24 hours after the order was announced before he actually signed it.
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On Tuesday, Ige stressed that the order would not impact the Neighbor Islands.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams was also at the news conference, describing a new federally-backed testing program that will allow officials to conduct an additional 5,000 tests a day (from about 2,500 now).
“Yellow is where Hawaii is right now,” Adams said, at the news conference. “It’s why as the mayor and the governor emphasized it’s important to combine this temporary reset. It really only has to be temporary while we get testing, while we get contact tracing, while we get isolation done.
“You have the power to make it temporary.”
Adams also discussed the terrible toll COVID-19 has taken on some communities, including Pacific Islanders. They make up just 4% of Hawaii’s population but 30% of the state’s cases.
“The Pacific Islander community has been suffering,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green agreed, in the news conference.
Green said the “stay-at-home” order will hurt, but “will also save lives.”
Authorities said the additional 60,000 coronavirus tests will allow Oahu to broadly test those in at-risk populations, including first responders, Pacific Islanders and those in public housing.
The stay-at-home order comes as Hawaii sees another triple-digit daily increase in new COVID-19 infections. The state reported 215 new coronavirus infections Tuesday. Of those, 201 infections are on Oahu, 11 are on the Big Island and three are on Maui.
Perhaps even more worrisome: Hospitalizations continue to rise. State officials said there were at least 270 coronavirus patients hospitalized statewide Tuesday — the highest number ever.
That’s up from 105 hospitalizations on Aug. 10.
This story will be updated.