Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Thursday outlined a plan to reopen businesses and activities on Oahu that divides them into four categories based on how much of a risk they pose of passing on the virus.
For example, walks in the park are considered low risk, and the mayor has already said parks would reopen early Saturday morning for exercise activities.
But something like a marathon packed with runners could be a higher risk activity and would depend on whether the virus appears to be under control on the island.
Caldwell plans to extend the City and County of Honolulu’s stay-at-home order until at least May 31, meaning certain businesses might stay closed a little while longer.
However, the mayor hopes that slowly lifting certain restrictions throughout May and beyond could help to avoid another spike in COVID-19 cases.
“We want to avoid this,” Caldwell said, showing a chart that detailed two spikes in the Spanish Flu in 1918. “We want to avoid this at all costs.”
The city is monitoring a number of factors to determine when it can reopen certain businesses in what the city calls an environment assessment.
Those factors include watching how the number of cases drops amidst increased testing, making sure hospitals and intensive care units have enough beds and are stocked with personal protective equipment, enforcing quarantines and ensuring the public is practicing social distancing.
“These reopenings will not be driven by date, but by determination of whether they meet the criteria,” Georgette Deemer, deputy managing director, said.
Caldwell’s administration is already considering relaxing orders on certain activities it has deemed low risk. Those include opening golf courses, car dealerships and real estate sales on May 1 so long as they all follow social distancing requirements.
Caldwell also said some nonessential businesses could start operating remotely. For example, music classes could be conducted online.
It’s less clear when restrictions on medium- or high-risk businesses and activities could open.
What the city calls high risk — like beauty salons, restaurants and gyms — would need significant changes to how they typically operate before opening, he said.
“We’re working hard to see what kinds of things we can open up earlier,” Caldwell said. “We recognize that businesses are struggling. They’re hanging on by their fingernails, and they can’t hang on forever.”
Read a slide presentation on the city’s plans below.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell