Responding to skeptical council members, city explains its ‘tier plan’ for reopening

Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 10:41 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With COVID-19 infections on Oahu on the decline, city leaders are sparring over past mistakes — and the plan for the future.

At a City Council hearing on Tuesday, City Councilman Tommy Waters urged the city’s managing director to “learn from our mistakes.” "We did open up too fast the last time,” he said.

At the meeting, Managing Director Roy Amemiya explained the city’s reopening strategy to skeptical council members. Amemiya said it will be based on two variables.

“Positive cases for every 100,000 residents. So, we’ll pick a number, somewhere between probably 70 and 100. We have a number in mind, just not ready to introduce it. And … test positive rate,” said Amemiya.

Amemiya told council members there are various tiers that would dictate which businesses can reopen.

“So if we hit that number, or we’re below it, we move to the next tier,” he said. “Everybody in the city will be able to know when they can open based upon those two criteria.”

The city’s current stay-at-home order is set to expire on Sept. 24, and the mayor has indicated that he will be easing some restrictions with the next order. But Amemiya warned if there is not adequate testing, contact tracing and isolation and quarantine space, the city may experience another shutdown.

“They’re still being put in place … testing, tracing and isolation/quarantine," Amemiya said.

“We need to move very slowly before we open up again because we’re going to have to lock down again if we don’t have those things in place.”

Council members expressed their frustration to city leaders on Tuesday afternoon, specifically about the impact on small businesses.

“Everyone in this room has the luxury of still having a paycheck. There’s so many out there that are not having a paycheck for seven months,” said Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi.

Added Waters: “The public just doesn’t trust us anymore. That’s part of the problem."

Amemiya said the city is not releasing the exact details for their reopening plan just yet because they are currently running it by the business community.

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