Hawaii Updates: Interisland Quarantine Lifts June 16; No New Cases; Reopenings Statewide This Week

Jun 1, 2020

Updated: 6/1/2020, 5:18 p.m.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is lifting the 14-day mandatory quarantine for interisland travelers beginning on June 16. The move was widely anticipated and heavily advocated by Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who wanted it lifted earlier because of the low number of new COVID-19 cases in the islands.

"This is first and foremost for Hawaii residents," Ige said at a press conference at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport today. "It is the opportunity for our families to reconnect with one another."

There will be thermal screening for interisland travelers and a new form to fill out to help officials track down new cases of COVID-19. More details on the requirements for interisland travel will be released later.

Those from out of state will still need to undergo the mandatory self-quarantine even if they take an interisland flight after they arrive.

Ige said he will be making an announcement next week on out-of-state and trans-Pacific travel.

"We are driving toward having a target date where we can invite more of our guests from joining us here in the islands but we want to be mindful of the notion that other communities have reopened their economies too quickly and have seen second spikes and increasing outbreaks," he said.

Ige said in the past week, California -- among the state's largest visitor markets -- experienced 19,900 new cases of COVID-19. Washington State had 2,100 and Oregon more than 355 new cases.

Reopening interisland travel will allow the state to refine its procedures before opening up further, the governor said. He said the state is focused on setting up safe travel corridors with domestic and international partners where the COVID-19 presence as well as screening and contacting tracing are similar to Hawaii's.

Where we stand

Hawaii recorded no new coronavirus cases today, a return to the zero or single cases that have spurred reopenings across the state.

The state health department now reports the number of recorded cases at 652; deaths remain at 17. The case count for Oahu is at 421, Maui County at 120, Hawaii Island at 81 and Kauai at 20. There are 10 cases diagnosed out of state. Some 608 people have been released from isolation.

Reopenings across the Hawaiian islands this week 

Hawaii's counties are planning reopenings of increasing segments of their businesses and activities this week, but with various safety measures to keep COVID-19 cases contained. 

Certain kinds of businesses will remain closed for now, notably bars and night clubs. For other businesses and activities, the move to the new normal is underway. Here's what's planned:

City and County of Honolulu: On Oahu, retaurants can open starting Friday for dine-in services. The state and county have issued social distancing and sanitation guidelines for both customers and restaurant operators.

Businesses and commercial operations can also reopen Friday, as will all city pools for lap swimming only, unless closed for maintenance. Starting this past Friday, barbers, hair salons and other personal services were allowed to reopen. 

Appointment-only services opened last week for those holding Oahu driver's licenses and state IDs expiring through July 31, including those granted a 90-day extension in March. Appointments can be made on the city's AlohaQ website or by calling 808-768-4177.  

The city is proposing to open movie theaters, museums and fitness centers on June 19, which Gov. David Ige will need to officially approve.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: 1 New Case; Pine Objects to Military's Quarantine Exemption

Maui County: Most remaining businesses and services that have not reopened can do so today. These include restaurants, fitness centers, playgrounds, dog parks, skate parks, all county parks and beach parks, unless a specific reopening date has been designated.

As of Saturday, selected county pools were opened for lap swimming, with reservations required by calling 808-270-6116. 

Maui's barbers, hair salons and other personal services were allowed to open May 25. 

Kauai County: Starting today, restaurants' dine-in services following state health department guidelines and spas can reopen.  Hair salons, barbershops and places of worship were allowed to reopen starting on May 22.

Indoor exercise, including fitness centers and gyms, can resume business. Outdoor spaces, such as playgrounds and skate parks and activities like organized, outdoor team sports can also reopen.

Musicians and bands can perform at restaurants, but must maintain a 10-foot distance from patrons and staff, and a six-foot distance between performers. The county recommends the performances be held outdoors and that the entertainers who can should wear masks.

Hawaii County: Hair salons, barbers, churches and restaurant dine-in services can all reopen today under one of Mayor Harry Kim's latest emergency rules approved by Gov. David Ige on May 23.

Restaurants will have to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as well as those from the National Restaurant Association. Food courts are also allowed to reopen, but not bars and nightclubs.

One-on-one training, including music lessons, yoga, massage and personal training, are also allowed to resume operations.

County parks and recreational facilities can open for limited uses approved by the parks director, including for rodeos, the Hilo drag strip and the Hilo skeet range.

The governor has said that any of the easing of restrictions can be pulled back if the number of new coronavirus cases warrants it. 

Lack of notice about proposed Chinatown homeless center prompts apology

A proposed homeless services center in Chinatown came as a surprise to residents and businesses -- and that brought an apology from the head of the nonprofit Institute for Human Services.

During an online townhall on Friday, IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell said the project was quickly put together to meet a deadline for federal funding. She said she was sorry the community was not fully notified.

The institute is seeking to take over a three-story building on North Beretania St. where Jenny’s Lei Shop is housed.

Mitchell gave details during the townhall about the Chinatown Homeless Triage and Cares Station, which would use $2.6 million in CARES Act funds and serve the chronically homeless:

“We need to be close to the people because a lot of them can't even walk over to the Punawai Rest Stop or to our shelter which is just in Iwilei," Mitchell said. "People ask us why Chinatown. We're just feeling like, it doesn’t have to be right there. But we feel like we need to be close and we need to be, you know, close enough so people can actually be brought there ... rather easily. They won't go with us sometimes when we ask to put them in a car, you know, to take them to another place."

Mitchell said the proposed homeless triage center is aimed at lowering the risk of COVID infection for the community, reduce loitering and the disruption of the peace and comfort of people who live there. "We want to get chronically homeless individuals off the street permanently,” she said.

Mitchell said the location of the proposed center is not set in stone and IHS is open to other suggestions.

The Downtown-Chinatown Neighborhood Board is scheduled to take up the project at its next meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the Hawaii Pacific University Multi-Purpose Room 2, Aloha Tower Marketplace.

--HPR's Sandee Oshiro

Maui County to speed permit approvals for eligible projects

Maui County is fast-tracking approval of repairs and renovations for busineses impacted by the emergency.

Permits eligible for expedited initial review include those for building projects that do not require electrical or plumbing work. Those permits will be approved in 15 days and, and if not, will be automatically approved, the county said in a release.

Other requests eligible for fast-tracking of initial reviews include special management area applications and permits for electrical and plumbing projects that will be completed in 15 days.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest COVID-19 developments and the state's phased reopening. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.