Gen. Hara says state needs to speed up the pace of reopening economy, or face possible riots

Coronavirus

A warning from the state’s incident commander, General Kenneth Hara, the state has to move faster in opening the economy, or risk the possibility of civil disturbance, and even riots.

Hara adds that the state has to accept some risks with economic recovery.

He told the House Select Committee on COVID-19 that he’s still getting some push back from the State Department of Health with his strategy on reopening the economy. And he’s worried about public reaction if the state doesn’t move any faster.

“If we let the economy go the way it’s going, there will be, I feel, significant unrest that could lead to civil disobedience. In worst case, civil disturbance and rioting,” said Hara.

He says we’ve come to the point where moving too slow would make it much harder for the economy to recover. And even though there will likely be some infections, the state needs to accept those risks.

“We got to accept the fact that people will be infected. We need to try to push it to what our healthcare system can handle,” said Hara.

Economist Carl Bonham points out that it still has to be done right because if the economy reopens and is shut down again, there could also be civil unrest.

“We’ve never faced anything more critical than this in the state. If we don’t get this right and get it right now, I mean the aspects are really dismal,” said Bonham, executive director at UHERO.

The committee wants to meet with the governor this week. Although he doesn’t seem to agree with the urgency of the situation.

“I do not believe that we will get to civil unrest here in our community, just judging by the public’s response to the mandates,” said Gov. David Ige.

He adds that his recovery team, which includes Hara, wants hard and fast rules on how to reopen. While the health department wants to be more flexible and he agrees with the health department.

“I advocate for discretion. Obviously, this situation that we are in is unlike anything Hawaii has ever experienced and I think we need to be flexible and focused on what is the appropriate action that should be taken,” said Ige.

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