Hawaii County mayor says don’t take additional risks when reopening the economy


Hawaii’s economy can recover without taking any additional risks. That’s the response from Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, who says he doesn’t agree with Gen. Kenneth Hara’s statement from yesterday that Hawaii should accept the risks with re-opening the economy faster.

As mayor of a county now without any active cases of COVID-19, Kim takes pride putting the safety of residents above anything else. He was also the county’s civil defense chief for more than two decades. And he says the state should not rush into opening up businesses and risk people’s lives.

“I think absolutely not. From where we go from here I think we should really evaluate it to make sure that things, are we ready to go to that level?” said Kim.

He adds that we’re still at the stage where we keep finding out new dangers about this pandemic. So he says what we need to speed up is the state’s ability to do more testing and contact tracing.

“Everything to identify if anything goes negative, we’re ready to isolate and respond because we have the mechanism to identify that,” said Kim.

He adds that he does see the possibility of moving to another level and opening some of the moderate risk businesses like hair salons, and allowing dining in at restaurants, probably later this month. But those businesses will have to be modified to comply with social distancing, by allowing fewer customers, everyone wearing masks, and possibly some type of barriers for protection. Without those, he says there’s no need to hurry.

“It doesn’t take much to open the paper or television news to see what has happened to other jurisdictions or countries when you become complacent to everything’s okay, and surely nobody in Hawaii wants that,” said Kim.

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