Ohana Hale Marketplace owner cited for violating emergency rules

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Ohana Hale Marketplace owner was cited for violating emergency rules for operation of non-essential businesses.

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Ohana Hale Marketplace reopened on Friday, Sept. 11.

The owner of the marketplace, Chris Ulu, said that he got permission on Sept. 8 from the city COVID-19 hotline to reopen, but did not have the name of the person who said that or have it in writing.

“All of a sudden we have to shut down, so now I got to pack everything back up again,” said Joseph Sapien, who operates Waterline Designs, a small business inside Ohana Hale Marketplace.

Some of the businesses were only open for an hour before Honolulu Police came in and starting telling retail vendors they needed to shut down.

Ulu said he was under the impression that the marketplace got the green light to reopen from the city.

“I have people who sell masks, sanitation, sanitizing lotions, and he said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s all essential,’ so that’s the whole reason that he said why we could open, and I said, ‘You sure?’ and he said, ‘Yes,'” Ulu said about his conversation with the person he supposedly spoke with from the city’s COVID-19 hotline.

However, the city released a statement on Sept. 11 that said, “The owner of Ohana Hale Marketplace was not given permission to re-open nonessential stalls. Food stalls are considered essential and allowed to provide take out. However, the non-essential businesses at the Ohana Hale Marketplace have been shut down and the owner was cited for violations under the emergency rules for the operation of non-essential businesses within their facility.”

The confusion lead to frustration from some of the retail vendors.

“How are we any different than a Walmart? You can go buy a TV at Walmart, and you can buy food. So why is it that those kind of places are open? The big box stores are all recording record sales, and the small guys, we are all dying,” said Aaron Forsgren of Tanoa Hawaii.

The food stalls inside Ohana Hale Marketplace said the shut down of over vendors inside the marketplace will cause a painful chain reaction.

“Because if the retail shuts down, we’re going to not get too much business too,” said Julia Wong of Little Spoon & Co., an ice cream vendor inside Ohana Hale Marketplace. “We probably will end up shutting down too.”

Ulu said he is now considering closing up the entire marketplace until Oahu’s stay-at-home order is lifted.

“We just need more clarification on what to do and how to handle things,” Ulu said.

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