Retailers prepare for reopening even without the official date announced


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu retailers and the association that represents them are preparing to reopen but they said it is difficult without an official reopening date from the county or a set of COVID-19 guidelines they will be expected to follow this time around.

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The second stay-at-home order in Honolulu will expire after this Wednesday.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said non-essential retail stores will be among the first to reopen with 50% capacity but business owners have not been given a reopening date.

Seneca Klassen, owner of Lonohana Estate Chocolate said their location at Salt at our Kakaako closed for the second time due to the emergency order.

Klassen said their chocolate products have a long shelf-life which helps them with production.

They do have date sensitive products in their retail store such as drinks and truffles.

A set reopening date would help them prepare their products.

“We’re having to negotiate this weird maze,” Klassen said. “Ok, what do we focus on producing to have it ready for this slightly unknown time-frame? It’s just difficult to organize under these terms.”  
They were able to pivot towards online sales when they first had to shut-down in March, and their farm and production have continued. Even if the chocolate company remains in operation, Klassen said it feels harder to prepare for another reopening for a second time.

Klassen said, “It gets a bit more financially stressful that’s one thing. I mean small businesses we don’t have the resources the big chains have. So there’s less resiliency in that system.”  

Klassen said they have the cleaning procedures and personal protection equipment in place from the first time they reopened in May.

The same goes for clothing store T&C Surf, the company’s Vice President, Ryan Sugihara said they have an idea of what to expect from their first reopening after the shut-down, but they need an official time frame to call back employees and get their shops ready.

“Staff has shields, masks requirements, so even when customers come in the store we have hand sanitizer, we ask if they want it,” Sugihara said. “If they come out today or tomorrow, by Wednesday we’ll be setting up the stores, cleaning the stores, sanitizing everything, going through that whole round like we did the first time.”

The cases of COVID-19 began to drop in September as non-essential businesses remained closed. The Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said the lower count is also a result of banning group activities and gatherings.

Yamaki said, “They need to really look at where those things are happening, and address those hot spot areas but not penalize all businesses, it’s not fair.”  

The latest Honolulu Emergency order remains in effect until September 23.

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