HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu’s second stay-at-home order was lifted Thursday and a new emergency order went into effect, allowing many businesses to reopen with restrictions.
Among the biggest changes: Oahu retailers, shopping malls, salons and restaurants can welcome customers back in limited ways and gatherings of up to five are allowed in parks and on beaches.
Residents were happy to see the restrictions eased and many hit beaches and trails Thursday.
“It’s definitely a treat for us to be able to go out on hikes together as a family, because individually it doesn’t make sense,” said hikers Pat and Mike Reinsch.
“We’re happy to be able to take advantage now that they’re allowing larger groups of five.”
Hikers Kiki Heacook and Shawn Romena agreed.
“I think there should be less restrictions, especially for outdoor activities because you’re not surrounded by other people. I mean you’re out in the open,” Romena said.
Businesses have had mixed reactions to the new order, with some saying they’re grateful to be reopening their doors while others say they’re unsure whether they’ll be able to stay afloat.
“All we can do is get back to work and just keep selling and try to push sales as much as we can so we can get the business back up again, up and running,” said Jeannie Plaza, the store manager at the Jeans Warehouse at Kamehameha Shopping Center.
At A&N Fashion, a Kalihi store that specializes in wedding and other formal wear popular with Filipino families, sales clerk Dolly Agbayani was glad to return to work.
“I actually waited for so long," she said. "I wanted to come back to work because I had nothing to do at home, and staying at home was really kinda boring.”
However, sales have yet to rebound. Agbayani said in the past, two or three families would come in a day to purchase clothes for a special occasion.
Now, there’s only “about one or two people. With alterations,” she said. “It’s kinda sad."
City officials say the new order, based on a tier system, is aimed at strategically responding to increases in new COVID-19 infections. Under the order, Oahu is in Tier 1, which means:
- Social gatherings of up to five people (who can be unrelated) at parks, beaches and trails;
- Retailers and essential businesses, including big box stores, to operate at 50% capacity;
- Spiritual services, up to 50% capacity;
- Restaurants operating at up to 50% capacity, with no more than five people from the same household per table. Diners will also need to make reservations and provide their contact details.
- Museums, attractions and zoos to reopen, with a 50% capacity for indoor areas. Movie theaters can also reopen, but cannot offer food and drinks;
- Hair salons, barber shops and nail salons to reopen, with restrictions and gyms and fitness facilities to operate outdoors.
Businesses still closed under the order include bars, nightclubs, short-term rentals and helicopter tours. Under the city’s plan, Oahu bars and nightclubs won’t be able to reopen (even with restrictions) until Tier 4 — a level the island may not meet until December under the best case scenario.
There is also no mention in the guidelines about when concerts or live theater might be once again allowed. And outdoor organized team sports aren’t given the green light to resume until Tier 4.
Caldwell said the framework is a roadmap for how “we live with this virus” going forward.
Oahu will remain in Tier 1 for at least four consecutive weeks.
From there, restrictions will continue to ease as long as COVID-19 infections meet guidelines.
The framework appears to suggest Oahu wouldn’t reinstitute a full shutdown — closing non-essential businesses, parks and beaches and banning all social gatherings.
But there is no official guarantee that won’t happen if Oahu sees a large spike in cases.
With tourism set to resume in a limited capacity come mid-October with the pre-travel testing program, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with how it would affect the caseload.
This story will be live.