HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation on March 3 that will let the State work to prevent, contain and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, and to provide disaster relief if necessary.

There are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii.

The governor is taking this action to be prepared for any possible cases or outbreaks in the state.

The mayors of Maui, Kauai and the City and County of Honolulu are also issuing proclamations on March 3 in response to recent events revolving around the spread of COVID-19.

“I call it a preparedness proclamation. We don’t want to have people overreact or unnecessarily scare people.” Mayor Caldwell said.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim Kim issued a proclamation on Friday, February 28, 2020.

The State’s emergency proclamation authorizes the expenditure of state funds as appropriated for the purchase of supplies and equipment, and the speedy and efficient response to conditions that may be created by COVID-19.

“We recognize it was no longer about containment or quarantine it was about mitigation and we also recognize at that point is having the flexibility to really address as this virus changes and develops.” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

The proclamation also gives the state funding flexibility and allows the governor to suspend any laws that may impede the efficient execution of emergency functions.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of our communities across the state. COVID-19 has prompted the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency of international concern. This emergency proclamation will give us the ability to move more quickly and efficiently in our efforts to protect our communities from the virus and provide emergency relief if, and when it is necessary,” said Gov. Ige.  

With Hawaii’s tourism-based economy expected to dip, Mayor Caldwell thinks that Hawaii would be ripe for a bounce-back.

“If we do the proper things on mitigation we’ll see it like a flu season,” Caldwell said.

“More people will get sick than otherwise would be the case and if we do things properly it will start to come down a little more quickly and we can return back.”

University of Hawaii Travel Industry Professor Dr. Jerry Agrusa also believes even a substantial outbreak could be recovered from.

“I think if we contain it well we will see a small dip. But if we see a kind of a shift then I think we’ll go down and bounce back quickly.”

Hawaii Tourism and Lodging Association President and CEO Mufi Hanneman thinks the next two weeks will be telling for the industry’s future.

“It’s going to be a down year in terms of the projections that were thought of before this whole outbreak occurred so February will still be a good month but the telltale sign will be what happens in March, April, and May.”

The disaster emergency relief period begins immediately and continues through April 29, 2020.