Oahu business owners express mixed reactions to mayor’s reopening plan

Some Honolulu business owners say the mayor’s new order is a welcome chance to reopen, even with limits. Others say it’s a big confusing hassle.
Updated: Sep. 23, 2020 at 10:53 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Honolulu business owners say the mayor’s new order is a welcome chance to reopen — even with limits. Others say it’s a confusing hassle.

In a news conference Tuesday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the new framework will last until a vaccine is widely available, which could be next summer.

Under an order set to go into effect Thursday, most businesses on Oahu — from retailers to salons to restaurants — will be able to reopen but with restrictions.

Gyms, for example, can welcome back customers but only for exercise outdoors.

That’s not feasible for many feasible, which means many facilities will have to remain closed for now.

“This is a blow to us,” said Chris Faildo, owner of Flexx Fitness Hawaii.

[Read more: Some restrictions on Oahu to be loosened under new ‘tier system’ of reopening]

Faildo and his wife, Debbie, opened Flexx Fitness Hawaii at Dole Cannery on Aug. 15.

Twelve days later, gyms were forced to close under Honolulu’s second “stay-at-home” order. The Faildos say the new emergency order, which allows for outdoor exercises, is simply unfair.

“This is a small gym, it’s brand new, it’s super clean, it’s really easy to control. We went over and beyond what the CDC guidelines are,” said Debbie Faildo. “We are in the business of helping ... people to be strong."

Also under the new order, restaurants can reopen dine-in services.

But capacity must be limited to 50% and each table can only have five people from a single household. Diners need to make reservations and provide their contact details in case contact tracing is necessary.

Some owners fear legal issues.

“To get their personal information, we have to check their IDs," said the owner of a coffee shop. “I am not comfortable with one, collecting that kind of information and then storing it and then what do we do with it?”

The mayor admits the new rules may be confusing, but he said they are designed to be strategic. The new framework includes four tiers, each of which last four a minimum of four weeks and are based on cases.

“There are a lot of things open in tier one but with limitations all over the place to control the spread,” said Caldwell. “There’s some rough justice here, people may not see it as fair.”

Some restaurant managers are excited to welcome diners back in.

Copy of Reopening V6 by jcummings4

Emmanuel Cournede, of Il Lupino in Waikiki, said everything has been cleaned and sanitized.

“Obviously, we were really happy. There were rumblings that restaurants were not going to be allowed dine in for four weeks. So, we were thrilled to hear that we can get back to doing what we do,” Cournede said.

Hair and nail salons and barber shops can also reopen. On Tuesday, stylists were busy contacting clients and preparing to reopen.

“I was surprised. I thought we were going to get extended two more weeks," said Dayna Okuma. “Now it’s just about rushing and cleaning and setting up all over again.”

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