Mayor unveils plan to gradually reopen Honolulu

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2)–Two days after Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced parks would reopen on April 25, he unveils his plan to gradually reopen additional services to the public. His strategy is based on a number of factors, including the business or services ability to put protective measures in place.

“On Tuesday, we talked about gradually reopening and the fact that our stay-at-home order will remain in place with the gradual reopening of different categories of businesses…If there’s an order in place and it moves forward, month by month, with fewer things in place…we can protect ourselves from seeing a spiking of this virus,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell listed several environmental factors he will monitor as part of his reopening strategy.

The first is epidemiology. Are cases continuing to remain low as testing increases or are positive cases increasing?

Caldwell said the second factor is healthcare assessment. Do we have enough room in our hospitals? Are our healthcare facilities properly staffed and prepared?

The third factor: The public health system. Are we doing enough testing? Are we able to follow up with proper contact-tracing?

The last environmental factor in Caldwell’s plan is social readiness. Are residents practicing social distancing? Is everyone wearing protective masks?

He compared the environmental assessment to a weather report. He said while it is fairly easy to determine how the weather will be in one or two days, it’s difficult to tell how it will be after a week or two. And like the weather, he said, we need to check on our environmental factors every day to ensure we are still on the right path and can continue to reopen or have to pull back.

“The other factor we look at is a risk assessment. So one is the weather report– the environmental assessment–and the other is the risk assessment. These are activities that are based on the level of contact and the ability to modify those conditions. So a risk assessment runs the gamut from very low risk to very high risk,” Caldwell said.

He added that it doesn’t mean that businesses in the higher risk category can’t open up, it’s a matter of whether they can “do the modifications necessary to mitigate those risks.”

Botanical gardens are considered low risk, and will be reopening May 1.

“We’ve also talked about aiming towards May 1 for golf courses with a lot of limitations. Car dealerships, real estate transactions by appointment only with a lot of limitations–everyone wear a mask. When you go to an open house, only one person in the open house at a time with the broker. And certain other businesses with remote interfaces.”

In the medium risk category with modifications are some retail stores, pet grooming and even some business offices–as long as proper social distancing and other measures are followed.

Hair and nail salons, restaurants, gyms and churches fall into the high risk, with modifications category.

“We are looking at the risk factors and if we can modify the risk then we could look at opening up sooner.”

Bars, marathons, concerts and sporting events are considered high risk and difficult to modify. Caldwell said those things will take much longer to reopen.

Caldwell said he will continue to assess the situation and “look at the weather report” daily to determine how to slowly reopen Honolulu.

The goal is to move forward slowly to prevent another spike in COVID-19 cases in a few months.

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