Here’s how Hawaii residents occupied themselves during the first lockdown of 2020

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — March 25, 2020 marked the first day of Hawaii’s first statewide pandemic driven lockdown. 

On March 6, the Department of Health reported the first case of COVID-19 in Hawaii.

By March 23, cases skyrocketed, prompting former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell to order a Citywide lockdown for the island of Oahu. Just two days later, a statewide mandate ordering all residents to quarantine was issued by Governor David Ige.

Under the “stay-at-home, work-from-home” order, many Hawaii residents were only permitted to do the following:

  • Perform tasks essential to their health and safety.
  • Obtain necessary services, supplies.
  • Engage in outdoor activity in locations permitted by law.
  • Only perform work if it is providing essential products and services.
  • Only break quarantine to care for a family member or pet in another household.

A year since the first lockdown, so much has changed. Over 15% of the state’s population lost their jobs, others grieved the death of loved ones lost to the coronavirus, and businesses with deep ties to their communities had to close their doors for good. Despite the year of pain and adjustment, some people said they found a silver lining. 

KHON2 conducted a poll, asking Hawaii residents how they spent their time at home during that first lockdown. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Started a DIY project

Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

During lockdown, people had more time to spare and decided to get creative. Remodeling the home, sewing and completing arts and crafts projects were among the most popular things that kept bored hands busy. Amid the stay-at-home order, more people were also looking to get a green thumb. Here were some of the best plants to grow for any type of home.

2. Learned a new skill

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Besides getting creative, people also had more time to learn a new hobby or skill. Baking bread, learning how to cook, studying photography, improving their puzzle skills and even learning another language were among the top activities Hawaii residents took up to stay productive. Some people say they also took advantage of free online courses when in-person learning closed.

3. Embraced digital life

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While some people took advantage of quarantine by being productive, others simply embraced the technologies around them. Watching Netflix, using TikTok and playing video games all skyrocketed in 2020. According to Reuters, Netflix gained 15.8 million paying customers from January through March. Also, with more screen time came less physical activity. A global study confirmed that most people, on average, ate more junk food, gained weight and got less sleep. Many gaming fans took to social simulation video game ‘Animal Crossing’ to help their time fly by. 

4. Switched to online shopping and selling

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With the lack of in-person access to stores, many went online to get their goods delivered from the safety of their homes. Etsy was a popular platform for people to shop on, which was tied to the pandemic-induced e-commerce boom, as well as there being more interest in DIY projects and homemade items. According to Forbes, Etsy stock skyrocketed 340% over the past year alone! Several businesses could also be seen shifting their business model to online sales

5. Celebrated life online

Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the social distancing, connection still found ways to seep through. People stayed close by hosting virtual celebrations for things like birthdays and graduations, others went on “zoom” dates, and friends hosted game nights over video. The Internet also allowed for most traditions to be kept in place, including the annual Honolulu Marathon.

6. Took advantage of no tourists

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With empty beaches, parks and roads, locals could finally enjoy most of their island’s popular attractions without fighting for space that’s typically crowded by tourists. Whether it was taking a hike or jogging down Ala Moana Blvd., there was enough space for everyone to enjoy their solo activities. It was also a great time for commuters due to a significant decrease of cars on the roads.

7. Created resolutions

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More time at home means more time to think. As life slowed down, people took on the challenge to improve themselves and their surroundings, to control what they could. For some, eating healthy, deep cleaning the house and getting to know their neighbors was their way of adopting a new outlook on life. For others, the pandemic provided a time of reflection and with that an opportunity for a fresh start. Deciding to get sober, adopting a dog, deciding to go back to college (virtually) after many years away and starting a new career were some of the things Hawaii residents reported doing.

 8. Caught up on some much needed family time

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The pandemic brought a lot of fear for families with relatives who were considered to be at higher risk of exposure. While many opted to refrain from seeing elderly family members during the early stages of COVID-19, those who occupied the same house took the time to reconnect. Some residents reported having a chance to spend more time with the kids and get to know one another in ways they hadn’t before. Others described days spent with their grandparents and relatives who are usually on the go. The lockdown offered a unique time for families to create cherished memories in their shared quarantine space. 

9. Prioritized self care

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For others, the pandemic wasn’t about arts and crafts or online shopping. It was a chance to face something they had been neglecting for years: their mental health. Some residents shared how they spent their free time healing themselves. One resident pursued online therapy, another slept in more, many enjoyed catching up on their favorite TV shows and some enjoyed the freedom of not having their day planned out for once.

10. Served their community

For certain residents, remaining at home wasn’t an option. They woke up each day, masked up and headed out the door to serve their community. Emergency responders, hospital workers, grocery store employees, and hundreds of other essential workers kept operations open for residents in need of their critical services. They went into work, assuming the risk of contracting COVID-19 and they held their head up high through the long hours and days of uncertainty. Others volunteered their time at food drives and shelters for families in need, to make sure the community was cared for. Despite the distance, the island was connected in a way it hadn’t been before. 

A year has gone by since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and we have learned more about living with the virus than when we first started. As employees head back to work and the economy begins its slow but steadfast recovery, many residents are taking the lessons of 2020 into their future.

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