Hawaii governor plans to extend quarantine through June 30

Via live broadcast on Facebook, Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced May 14 his intention to extend both the state’s “safer-at-home” regulations and mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arrivals to the Islands through the end of June. 

While there are plans to gradually loosen restrictions on businesses and some activities, Ige and other state and county officials announced, much of the system put in place to restrict the spread of Covid-19 in the Aloha State will remain in place for at least another six weeks. 

The governor said he would be looking at ways to reopen “medium risk” businesses, including hair salons, barber shops and indoor dining at restaurants. 

“The next round of businesses deal with more risky activity, and so I’m working with the mayors to establish policies of how to move forward in that regard,” Ige said, while adding that he is not yet prepared to allow large gatherings. 

As of March 14, Hawaii had 637 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 17 deaths, and more than 90% of the infected people have been released from isolation, according to the state health department. The last time the agency reported double-digit new confirmed infections in a single day was April 18, and the rate of new cases in Hawaii appears to be steadily declining.

Since March 26, everyone arriving in the Aloha State has been subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at their home or accommodation. Violators can be fined up to $5,000 and face up to a year in jail.

Retail stores on Oahu started reopening May 15 with social distancing guidelines, and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said during a May 14 press conference he would also extend the general stay-at-home order for the county through June 30 while moving to allow more activities and lifting some restrictions on restaurants. Caldwell suggested restaurants could reopen as soon as June 5 depending on the state’s progress in containing the pandemic after retail businesses return.

“If there is an uptick and it’s significant, we have time to adjust and recalibrate whether we open up restaurants or not,” Caldwell said.

There will be new health requirements in place for restaurants, including face coverings for employees and diners when they are not eating, seating placed 6 feet apart, more single-use materials, increased sanitization and other procedures. Caldwell is also moving to incrementally ease restrictions on outdoor sports, drive-in and religious services, and other activities in the coming weeks.

At times, dueling regulations from the counties and state have caused confusion; for example, over what activities are allowed at beaches, which are currently only open to access the ocean or for exercise. Caldwell said he would ask Ige to fully reopen state beaches, while the governor said he would work to come up with cohesive guidelines with county officials. 

“I’ve told the mayors that my intention is to extend the safer-at-home mandate through the end of June. We will be looking at different components of what that means,” Ige said in his Facebook live announcement. “Certainly we will be extending the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all travel into the state until the end of June, but there are other businesses and activities that we’ll look at reopening.”

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