Frustration builds for businesses that complied with CDC guidelines but still forced to close

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Calls to reopen more businesses on Oahu continue. Business owners said they are frustrated because they have done everything required by the CDC but are forced to remain closed.

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Time, effort and thousands of dollars. That is what many business owners invested to make their shops safe for reopening after the first shut down in spring only to be forced to shut-down, again.

In late August, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced a second Stay At Home/Work From Home Order to stop the increasing cases of COVID-19. The order initially shut-down nonessential businesses for two weeks. A day before the two weeks were up, Caldwell extended it another two weeks.

Business owners like T&T Tinting Specialist President Tommy Silva are not happy.

“It’s just really frustrating. We put in a lot of time and effort and spent a lot of money to comply with the CDC guidelines,” said Silva.

Plexiglass, sanitizer, personal protective equipment, additional disinfecting measures and limiting the number of customers allowed into shops — Those are just a few of the changes businesses made in order to safely reopen after the first shutdown in March and April.

Silva said he spent $2500 making the initial changes, and it costs another $500 a month to replenish the PPE and cleaning supplies.

“Our staff clean every half an hour. Every time somebody comes through the shop we clean all the high touch surfaces. We really followed it to the T.”

Despite all that, he was still ordered to close.

“It’s just not fair for us small businesses with employees with families to feed and rent to pay and mortgages to pay to be deemed non-essential, shut down when we didn’t cause any clusters,” Silva said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the mayor said:
“While recognizing that many businesses and operations worked diligently to comply with the Mayor’s orders and CDC and Hawaii State Department of Health guidelines and industry guidelines, the Mayor believed that for the sake of the greater good, health and safety of all residents of the City and County of Honolulu, this action had to be taken. The investments made in the past will pay off in the end and going forward.”

“I just wish that the mayor would look at the specific industries that he’s shut down,” said Hapa Heaven Salon owner Raynette Hall.

The Mayor’s spokesperson said:
“The decision to designate and determine whether a business or operation is “essential” or “critical” is made based on guidelines issued by the federal government (Department of Homeland Security, Cyber security and Infrastructure Security Agency) and other states and municipalities, and discussions with business and industry professionals, local medical professionals, the Governor’s office, HI-EMA, and the Hawaii State Department of Health.”

Hall said that some of her senior clients come into her salon on a weekly basis just to get their hair washed.

“That, to me is essential. It’s a form of hygiene,” Hall said.

The mayor’s spokesperson said:
“If personal hygiene care for the home-bound elderly needs to be rendered, we urge individuals to seek the services of a person licensed and authorized in ‘home-based care for seniors and adults,’ which is a designated essential business.”

Hall added that people in her profession already have to adhere to strict standards and guidelines.

“The places people were getting sick was not the hair salon. Hairstylists and technicians– we’re a licensed community. In our industry we have to go through testing to get our license and follow rules, keeping up on sanitation and disinfecting things. We know all those things and we’ve had to do them prior. To close us down is disheartening,” Hall explained.

Both Hall and Silva said they think it is unfair to punish those who are following the rules.

“Tell us what to do and we’ll do it. The ones that don’t, go after them,” said Silva.

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