Gov. David Ige ordered residents statewide to stay at home Monday in the government’s most recent effort to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The order will take effect Wednesday and run through April 30. Nonessential business operations must cease and out-of-home travel will be restricted except under certain instances.
Ige’s order is similar to those imposed Sunday in Maui County and the City and County of Honolulu. It also mirrors actions taken by at least five other states operating under similar “Stay At Home” orders.
“The threat of COVID-19 is unprecedented,” Ige said. “It requires more aggressive action.”
Ige’s announcement comes a day after the Legislature sent him a letter saying he has not done enough to halt the spread of COVID-19. The letter asked that he order residents to shelter in place immediately, which is something he can do under the state’s Emergency Management Act.
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Hawaii rose to 77 Monday, with 22 new cases reported. It was the largest single-day jump since the first case was reported on March 6.
Essential businesses include healthcare facilities, grocery stores, pharmacies, schools, food service establishments, cannabis producers, organizations that provide charitable services such as food banks, media, gas stations, banks, hardware stores, shipping companies, post offices, laundromats, business supply stores, transportation companies, home based care services, elderly homes, child care services, labor unions, hotels, mortuaries, government functions, and critical trades including construction, plumbers, electricians, janitors, movers and engineers.
Professional firms that provide legal and accounting services and insurance companies can also stay open.
Residents can leave their homes to buy groceries, go to court, travel to work, exercise and walk their pets. Homeless individuals are exempt from the stay at home order, but are urged to find shelter space.
The governor also ordered the closing of anywhere people can gather like gyms, amusement parks and theaters.
“We can only be successful if everyone takes responsibility for their actions,” Ige said.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz applauded the actions of the state and the counties.
“I think the measures that the mayors and the governor are putting in place have been demonstrated to work elsewhere. The whole community is coming together here,” he said. “This is going to be an extraordinarily difficult time for the state of Hawaii, but we’re now doing the things that are necessary to save lives and hopefully make sure that we come out of this as healthy and as soon as possible.”
Tax Deadline Extended
Tax deadlines for individuals and corporations have also been extended from April 20 to July 20. Businesses must still file estimates for their general excise taxes by April 20.
Maui County and Oahu have similar stay at home orders effective Monday afternoon.
Ige said he chose Wednesday as the effective date to give the state time to implement the order. He also called again for tourists to cancel their trips to Hawaii.
Ige said his administration had already considered making such an order before the county mandates on Sunday.
Senate President Ron Kouchi, one of the lawmakers who had criticized Ige’s apparent slow movement on ordering residents to stay at home, praised the governor’s decision.
“This action is a huge sacrifice that we could have never imagined a year ago, but we must face this challenge,” Kouchi said in a written statement.
Beginning Thursday, travelers to Hawaii and returning residents must quarantine in either their homes or hotel rooms.
The state and its counties have taken steps over the last week to control and contain the virus.
Ige on Tuesday directed bars and clubs to close and restaurants to move to takeout and drive-through service.
Oahu, Hawaii County and Maui County all have similar orders. However, Oahu and Maui County also have stay at home orders while Kauai is operating under nightly curfews.
Hawaii County has yet to close eateries, but has closed beach parks. Mayor Harry Kim said he wanted to see a statewide policy, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell