Hawaii Updates: Oahu Barbers, Hair Salons Can Reopen; Schatz Calls For Moment Of Silence; 1 New Case

May 27, 2020

Updated 5/27/20, 7:51 p.m.

Gov. David Ige has approved the city's request to reopen hair salons, barbers and other personal services with modifications in place on Friday, along with outdoor places like Sea Life Park, his office announced today.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s planned reopening also applies to nail salons, tattoo shops and venues like Wet ‘n’ Wild and Kualoa Ranch.

Ige also will allow businesses beyond restaurants to reopen and permit indoor, residential, non-commercial gatherings of 10 or less, regardless of whether they are related, starting on Juhe 5.

The mayor also wants to open movie theaters, museums, and fitness centers on June 19, but the review for that will come later, the governor's office clarified in a followup email.

Caldwell had asked for the easing of restrictions based on recent data.

"We see the curve remaining flat, you know. We’ve seen a couple days of zero cases in the State of Hawaii, back to back, cases for Oahu on multiple days with zero cases," the mayor said. "And so I think we’re seeing the result of all the hard efforts that all of us have [made]. And so we continue to move forward in a step by step manner.".

Caldwell said the city’s modifications will rely on guidelines possibly tailored to different industries.

Yesterday's Hawaii Updates: No Cases For 3rd Day; North Shore Partying Violated Rules; UH To Make SAT Optional

The mayor mentioned that “a bulk” of city workers are working at the offices, and the city is slowly bringing back people who are working remotely.

Caldwell also reemphasized that bars, nightclubs and large venue events will remain closed. But the city administration will decide at a later date when those should be allowed to reopen.

Clarification: The governor's office amended an earlier announcement to say that Mayor Kirk Caldwell's request to reopen theaters, museums and fitness centers will be reviewed later and is not included in the latest order.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Maui receices clearance for broad reopening of businesses

Gov. David Ige approved Mayor Michael Victorino's plans to allow more businesses and services to operate on June 1 with health and safety guidelines in place, it was announced today.

"“With only a handful of new cases over the past 30 days and continued support from our healthcare workers, I believe we are in a position to allow our local businesses to reopen under health and safety guidelines," the mayor said in a press release.

But he said busnesses should not feel pressured to open on June 1, "though, and I strongly encourage all of them to take added precautions to prevent any spread of the virus,” he said.

Bars, nightclubs, public gathering venues, banquet halls, community centers, county gymnasiums will remain closed.

Fitness and recreational facilities, clubhouses, dog parks and playgrounds will be allowed to open.

All county parks and beach parks plan to reopen on June 1, with the exception of Waiale Park, which will remain closed for temporary emergency shelters. Selected county pools will also reopen.

Schatz joins call for a national moment of silence 

JUNEAU, Alaska — U.S. senators, including Lisa Murkowski and Brian Schatz, are calling for a moment of silence to honor those who have died from COVID-19.

The moment of silence is planned for noon Monday.

The U.S. on Wednesday surpassed 100,000 deaths related to the pandemic, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said too many families have seen loved ones suffer or been unable to have proper memorials for those who have died.

“These impacts cannot be undone, but my heart is with each person, family, and community that is mourning. As a nation, together, we grieve the lives that have been taken by this dreadful disease," she said in a statement.

Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, said the nation "must mark this dark moment with unity and clarity.”

--Associated Press

Where we stand

One new case of COVID-19 has been reported on Hawaii Island. That follows three days of no new cases. The state Department of Health reports the total number of recorded cases in the state stands today at 644; deaths remain at 17.

The case count for Oahu is 414, Maui County at 118, Hawaii Island at 82, and Kauai at 20. There are still 10 cases diagnosed out of state. The DOH reports seven more people have been released from isolation since yesterday, for a total of 600 individuals.

Child care providers given more guidelines, urged to apply for federal funds

As the state reopens and people return to work, parents will have to figure out where to place their children.

Child care is part of the phased reopening, but there are only about 36,000 spots available statewide.

Many child care providers have closed their doors or severely decreased their capacity as the stay-at-home orders and social distancing took effect.

Pankaj Bhanot, the state Department of Human Services director, says his department issued more guidelines on reopening for child care providers, covering areas like sanitation and staffing. One rule requires a nine to one ratio of children to adults.

"That is what is the current guidance from CDC and across the country. That's what all child care facilities are looking at," he said. "I am absolutely aware that this is not going to be sufficient. As our economy continues to reopen in an incremental fashion, we would need more slots for child care. We will adapt and we'll make sure that we are providing the guidance and support to our providers as the need continues to grow."

Bhanot said that is why his department wants child care providers to apply for a portion of the $11.9 million allocated to Hawaii under the federal CARES Act for child care and development block grants. The funding is meant to stabilize the child care industry.

Eligible child care providers, those who are registered and licensed child care facilities and homes, as well as A+ sites at elementary schools can apply for the federal funding.

The deadline is July 31. More information is available on the human services department website.

--HPR's Ashley Mizuo

Mayor: Conflicting restaurant guidelines? Follow the city's rules 

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is hoping local restaurants opening up for dine-in services will follow the city’s guidelines over the state Department of Health’s when they conflict.

Caldwell says Gov. David Ige last week approved the city’s order modifying restaurant operations to allow for dining service. Honolulu eateries will be allowed to open for dine-in customers on Friday, June 5.

The DOH last week also issued guidelines for restaurants, but as HPR reported yesterday, there are several requirements that differ from the city’s.

For example, the DOH rules say diners should wear a face mask at all times except while actively eating. The city says they can take them off while they are sitting.

While the DOH oversees restaurant regulations, Caldwell says he hopes the city’s order is followed.

"It incorporates guidelines from various organizations, including the National Restaurant Association, the CDC and Department of Health, to the extent they have guidelines," the mayor said. "But, for example, the Department of Health may have a lower number of non-related people sitting at one table. We’re following the CDC guideline of 10 or less.

"And I prefer our guideline rule here because we actually did reach out to restaurants, and we’re told that if we limit the number per table, it would be very difficult for many restaurants to open up. And so this is a bit of that balance between protecting the public health, and also allowing our economy to start up again. And restaurants are a critical part of it."

Caldwell said he has not read all of the DOH’s guidelines and has not discussed them with health officials.

Asked about the conflicting rules yesterday, Gov. David Ige urged residents to comply with the reopening rules of each county.

He said while the state and counties are still reconciling differences and making amendments to guidelines for restaurants to reopen, residents should comply with the most conservative definitions.

In some cases, however, that is the state's rules rather than the counties'.

A city spokesman later sent out an email to the media pointing out language in Ige's proclamation that gives counties "maximum flexibility to exercise its respective emergency management authority" when applying  guidance that is in conflict with the state's.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

Arrivals exceed 1,000, hotel revenue and occupancy drop sharply

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said 1,028 people arrived Monday. Among them were 259 visitors and 381 returning residents.

Also among the arrivals were 145 crew members, 66 transiting travelers, 43 military, 54 travelers exempted by the state, and 80 people who say they plan to relocate to the islands.

HTA also reported that occupany dropped to 8.9 percent, down by 69 percentage points. The average daily rate fell to $131, a decline of 51.8 percent.

SNAP applications soar as pandemic takes toll on economy

The state has seen an increase of about 19,000 individuals receiving food aid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP or food stamps -- just one of the devastating effects of the coronavirus emergency. 

Pankaj Bhanot, director of the state Department of Human Services, said Hawaii had been serving around 153,500 individuals prior to the pandemic and distributing between $36 million and $37 million worth of food vouchers to those in need. Now the number is close to 171,500 people receiving SNAP benefits, he said.

The state also provided emergency supplemental benefits to families who did not get their full allotment of SNAP. So far, the state has issued close to $30 million in the emergency benefits to roughly 60,000 families statewide.

"That has really ensured food security for our residents during this difficult time," Bhanot said.

Hawaii Foodbank distribution today at Aloha Stadium

Food will again be distributed at the Aloha Stadium today starting at 10 a.m., with lines allowed no earlier than 7 a.m.

The assistance is aimed at those who have recently became unemployed because of COVID-19 and their families.

Vehicles must enter through Gate 3 on Kahuapa‘ani Street across from the Ice Palace. No other gates will be open for food distribution.

A vehicle can pick up food for a maximum of three households. Recipients should bring a pen, a valid government-issued ID for an adult from each household and a filled out household form. Households can also fill out a form on site.

Empty a backseat, trunk, hatchback or tailgate for the food, which will be placed in the vehicle. No walk-ins or bicycles will be allowed.

About 4,000 households will be served or until supplies run out. More information and a map is available on the foodbank's website.

Where we stand

For the third day running, Hawaii recorded no new coronavirus cases yesterday, continuing the trend in recent days of zero or few additional cases and spurring moves to reopen the economy.

The state health department now reports the number of recorded cases at 643; deaths stand at 17. The case count for Oahu is at 414, Maui County at 118, Hawaii Island at 81 and Kauai at 20. There are 10 cases diagnosed out of state. Some 593 people have been released from isolation.

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.