Gov. Ige says ‘low-contact retail,’ could re-open very soon

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Governor David Ige said he plans on re-opening more Hawaii businesses like retail soon.

He said he plans on signing a seventh emergency proclamation as early as Monday afternoon, which would discuss re-opening low-contact retail businesses.

He was not specific as to what retail stores could possibly re-open.  

“We have been looking at the risk of those businesses that can operate either modified to reduce interaction between employees and customers, or moving more to online or distance execution of their businesses as well,” he said.

Earlier Monday, the House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness discussed how the retail and restaurant industries could adapt to health measures and still survive.

 Restaurant and retail associations said they are finalizing plans to reopen their businesses while staying within new public health guidelines.

Sheryl Matsuoka, Executive Director of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, said the health and safety of staff and customers is their top priority, and referred the committee to the National Restaurant Association’s reopening guidance document as a blue print for Hawaii businesses.

Matsuoka said the national guidance can be adjusted for local businesses, but the basic rules include food safety, cleaning and sanitizing, employee health monitoring and personal hygiene, and physical distancing.

Matsuoka said many restaurants have been functioning as take-out only and are ready to reopen as soon as possible. They have moved tables at least six feet apart in their dining rooms, sanitized their spaces, and are ready to bring back staff.

“We want to be ready to go when we get the green light,” Matsuoka said.

Tina Yamaki, President of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, said her members are working on finalizing guidelines for retail operations this week. Yamaki said grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing shops and kiosks all have very different requirements. She said the National Retail Federation has created guidelines on reopening retail stores called Operation Open Doors.

Yamaki said merchants don’t expect a flood of shoppers to return to stores quickly, returning only when they feel safe. Merchants are considering starting with curb-side pickups, online ordering, limiting physical contact and reduced store occupancy.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told KHON2 Monday afternoon that if Honolulu’s COVID-19 cases remain low, he believes dine-in restaurants could soon re-open too.

“Right now it looks pretty darn good so I think by the middle of this month retail can be opened and towards the end of this month if we continue to see sunny weather and there isn’t an increase in cases, we start to see restaurants opening up,” Mayor Caldwell said.

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