Oahu retailers ask: If big box stores are open, why can’t we be?

Oahu retailers ask: If big box stores are open, why can’t we be?
The governor has approved a new “stay-at-home” order for Oahu starting Thursday at 12:01 a.m., officials announced in a news conference. (Source: Jonathan Saupe)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is the only state in the nation where some retail stores are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the New York Times.

Oahu retailers, like salons and gyms, are not considered essential businesses under Oahu’s stay-at-home order. The mandate went into effect Aug. 27 in a bid to address a COVID-19 surge on the island.

And on Tuesday, it was extended through Sept. 23.

Business owners say the forced closure has them feeling helpless.

“We were trying to just put discounts and sales on just to get any form of income coming along,” said Sheri Kira, who owns Kira Hawaii in Kakaako.

“It’s kind of like there is no sense of having hopes and dreams at this point.”

As the shutdown continues, Kira has moved her inventory out of her store and is focusing on online orders.

Kira believes the city’s rules unfairly target small businesses while allowing big box stores to stay open.

“If you go there it’s so crowded. Nobody is social distancing,” Kira said. “Whereas in our store, it’s such a small space but we’re able to control that kind of atmosphere and limit the amount of people.”

Sherry Menor McNamara, president and CEO of the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce," said most businesses are doing their part to keep customers safe.

She said retailers should at least be able to have pickup orders or deliveries.

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