Oahu businesses, residents worry rising number of COVID-19 cases could trigger restrictions

Updated: Nov. 10, 2020 at 5:28 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Oahu businesses and residents are weighing in on the prospect of a slowed reopening — or the reintroduction of some restrictions — if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Oahu is currently in Tier 2, which caps gatherings off at five people and puts strict capacity limits on businesses. If Oahu were to “snap back” to Tier 1 because of soaring infections, gyms and fitness facilities would need to close indoor operations and restaurants would be under strict rules.

David Leong, owner of Powerhouse Gym in Aiea, prefers staying in Tier 2.

The gym owner said he has lost thousands of dollars because of COVID-19 restrictions and doesn’t think he can survive closing once again.

“I might as well go out of business, I might as well shut my doors because the third time is just too much to ask my members, my landlords,” said Leong.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell hopes Oahu will never have to go back to Tier 1, but he is concerned. He said a recent uptick in cases appears to be linked to small gatherings.

“None of us want to go back in fact we want to get to Tier 3,” said Caldwell. “The virus doesn’t take a break, neither should we take a break.”

Police are continuing to enforce the rules.

From Oct. 22 to Nov. 8, HPD issued nearly 18,900 warnings, 2,800 citations, and made 39 arrests that were mostly for large gatherings, face masks, and social distancing.

Among residents, there are mixed opinions on how to keep the community safe.

UH Student Olivia Ronstadt said she supports a return to Tier 1 to slow the spread of the virus.

“I definitely think it’s a good idea especially living on a college campus you have a lot of college students going to parties and not following the rules," she said.

“Maybe we need to step back.”

Not everyone agrees.

Gabriel Hansen, who is visiting Oahu from Washington, said she would have rescheduled her trip if the island were in Tier 1. “No one wants to come here and be shut down for two weeks,” Hansen said.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said if everyone does their part, Oahu still has a chance of getting to Tier 3 by Thanksgiving. The tier allows gatherings of up to 10 people.

“I think if everyone follows it exactly and stays safe maybe for the holidays Tier 3 would be ok,” said UH Student Fiona Tuell. “But if they’re still going out not wearing masks, it’s still going to be a problem.”

In order for Oahu to move up to Tier 3, the 7-day average would need to range from 20 to 49 cases with a test positivity rate between 1 to 2.49%.

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