(BIVN) – Reopening Hawaiʻi following it’s dramatic shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic was the topic of an online talk between top state and county officials on Thursday.
Governor David Ige and all four county mayors – Kauaʻi Mayor Derek Kawakami, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino, and Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim – met online using Zoom, and livestreamed the discussion on Facebook. All five elected officials reflected on the situation in Hawaiʻi, which has seen some of the lowest COVID-19 case numbers in the nation.
“This could have been bad,” said Mayor Kim. “I think we are the envy of the the world, not just the states.”
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to let off,” Kim continued. “We all know that. But my goodness, all you have to do is turn on the morning news, evening news, afternoon news – and see what’s happening worldwide.”
“We all know about the country of Brazil, in the whole country. We all know about New York, New Jersey, and other states, so that’s what we’re all thanking you for,” Kim told the governor, who took early and dramatic action to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaiʻi with his stay-at-home order and travel quarantine.
Those mandates are now being rolled back as the number of daily new COVID-19 cases in Hawaiʻi remains low. The conversation between the governor and the mayors was mostly about reopening the economy.
Governor Ige read questions from viewers watching the livestream. “When can you open up camping on the Big Island,” Governor Ige asked Mayor Kim, “and connected to that, when would the swimming pools on Hawaiʻi Island be open?”
“One of the things about swimming pools,” began Mayor Kim, “I was trying to read up on it and listen to people… so-called experts… and realized just how dangerous that is. I think everyone who swims… you know that almost everybody takes in water in the mouth, spits it out, blows their nose and – Lord help us – people even urinate in the pool and whatever. And in a contained pool, except for a Pacific Ocean, I would not feel safe until I have all the information I need to know that those things are not going to be passed on to me. So, be aware that the swimming pool is one of the areas are going to look at very carefully.”
Mayor Kim did say that camping “should be one of the things that we can open. The National Park – I think is gonna start to open. And that’s a beautiful part of all of our islands,” he said.
Another viewer – through Governor Ige – asked Mayor Kim about when he will open up the gyms, “and what restrictions do you think will be put in place?”
“Basically after June 1st most of those will be open, talking about the
private gyms,” Mayor Kim answered. “Regardless of what we open, we need to make it clear there that everything has to be within the confines of those things of distancing, gatherings and those things. Face masks. And those gyms will be open.”
In a later media release, the Hawai;i County administration specifically identified which operations would not be allowed to open on June 1st. They are:
- Transient accommodations (bed and breakfast, short-term rentals and time-shares) may not open except where workers of essential businesses or operations are renting or staying. Current occupants who have pre-booked at transient accommodations may stay until the end of the pre-booked period. These restrictions are in place until the travel quarantine restrictions are lifted;
- Bars, nightclubs, arcades and other public gathering venues where social distancing measures are difficult to implement;
- Contact sports;
- Events and other gatherings greater than 10 persons until allowed by Governor’s Proclamation.
When reopening, the County of Hawaiʻi says businesses must follow “safe practices set forth in Proclamation 8 as may be supplemented and Rule 4,” including:
- Use of face masks;
- Hand hygiene—hand washing or hand sanitizers made available, especially upon entry;
- Surface cleaning—regular cleaning/disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by the public and employees
- Physical distancing—internal controls to maintain 6’ distancing; limits on number of persons allowed in the establishment based on the size of the establishment in order to maintain the physical distancing requirements;
- Protection of high-risk populations—separate hours or other accommodations to protect the senior and other vulnerable population;
- Stay home if sick directives;
- Signage informing customers and employees of the safe practices requirements.
- Higher levels of safety precautions specified by Governor’s proclamations, State rules, County proclamations or rules, CDC, OSHA, NIOSH, and/or industry-specific guidance.
Individuals at higher risk should continue to minimize time and contacts outside the household, the County says.
“Rule 6 rule shall continue through June 30, 2020, or until extended, rescinded, superseded, or amended by my subsequent order, or as otherwise provided by law,” a Hawaiʻi County news release stated. “Additionally, Mayor Kim is submitting to the Governor an Amendment to his Rule 4, which will reopen certain County park sites and recreational facilities on June 1, with some exceptions. Swimming pools, gymnasiums, and community centers will remain closed at this time.”
NOTE: The video above is edited to highlight Mayor Kim’s contributions to the discussion. The full talk can be watched on the Governor’s Facebook page.