Hawaii Democrat Gov. Ige Reopens Some ‘Nonessential’ Businesses; Extends Stay-at-Home Order Until May 31

Hawaii Gov. David Ige speaks at a news conference in Honolulu on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, about issuing an emergency proclamation in response to protesters blocking a road to prevent the construction of a giant telescope. Thousands of protesters joined a swelling effort to stop construction of a telescope they …
AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy

Hawaii’s Democrat Gov. David Ige extended his stay-at-home and quarantine order to May 31, but this week, he allowed some “nonessential” businesses, including car dealerships and florists, to reopen.

As of Thursday, April 30, the Aloha State had 16 coronavirus deaths, with 613 positive cases out of 30,640 tested, a positive test rate of 0.5 percent, the lowest in the country, according to the COVID Tracking Project. In the entire United States, about 16 percent of those who have been tested for coronavirus are positive, or 1,037,102 out of 6,065,570.

The trends for both coronavirus cases and deaths in the state, low to begin with, have been downward, according to The Covid Tracking Project. There were ten deaths in the state as of April 20. As of April 27, there were 16 deaths, but there was not a single new case in the three days between April 27 and April 30.

Ige issued a stay-at-home executive order on March 23 despite the state’s low level of coronavirus deaths and infection.

On Saturday, Ige extended that executive order until May 31:

“This was not an easy decision. I know this has been difficult for everyone. Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-isolation and we want to return to normal,” said Gov. Ige. “But this virus is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Thanks to our residents, we are flattening the curve, saving lives, and avoiding a resurgence of this virus by not reopening prematurely.”

The stay-at-home order means residents may leave their homes only for various essential needs, including healthcare, purchasing food, medicine, gasoline, taking care of the elderly, minors, or those with disabilities, returning to a place of residence outside of Hawai‘i, picking up educational materials for distance learning, receiving meals or other related services. Outdoor exercise is also permitted – including swimming, surfing and walking pets.

Also extended through the end of May — the 14-day quarantine for both visitors and residents entering the state and for inter-island travelers.

On Monday, the governor softened that order slightly, allowing florists to reopen, under certain conditions, then on Wednesday added to the list of formerly “nonessential” businesses allowed to open, as the StarAdvertiser reported:

“Hawaii, we are almost there,” Ige declared at a briefing held at the Capitol [Wednesday] afternoon.

However, the governor said a second wave of the virus is a real possibility and he might have to reimpose restrictive measures if there is a surge in new cases.

The businesses being reopened with limitations include certain real estate services, new and used car and truck dealerships, automated service providers, mobile service providers, services provided on a one-one-one basis and public and private golf courses.

Also on Wednesday, the governor’s office announced that four tourists visiting Hawaii were arrested for violating the quarantine:

A Florida man and an Illinois woman are the latest people to be arrested and charged under the State’s COVID-19 emergency rules. 25-year-old Mitchell Lawrence Shier of Miami and 27-year-old Anne Elizabeth Rush were first contacted by Honolulu Police yesterday, the same day they’d checked into a Waikiki hotel. Hotel staff called police after they saw the couple returning to their room with shopping bags and take-out food in violation of the mandatory, traveler 14-day self-quarantine rule. This morning special agents from the Dept. of the Attorney General’s Investigations Division went to the hotel and arrested Shier and Rush. They are charged with violation of the 14-day quarantine rule and unsworn falsification to authorities.

Also, yesterday, 60-year-old Leif Anthony Johansen of Truckee, California was observed by a witness jet-skiing off a North Shore beach. Authorities say he was supposed to be in self-quarantine at his Waialua home beginning on April 18th. Yesterday, Johansen was seen leaving his residence and was then followed to Costco in Waipio. He was arrested by AG’s special agents as he was loading groceries into his vehicle. In addition to being charged for violating the self-quarantine rule, he is also charged with unsworn falsification to authority. . .

On Maui, 34-year-old William Lefear is voluntarily returning to his home in Houston today, after being contacted by Maui Police repeatedly for violating the mandatory self-quarantine rule. His quarantine period was scheduled to end on May 11. An investigation revealed that Lefear left his hotel room late Monday and returned after midnight. The next morning when officers contacted him, he said he wasn’t aware of the mandatory self-quarantine. He told them he now understood the rules and would not leave his room again. Tuesday evening police were contacted again, as the Texas resident was seen leaving his room. He was arrested and released pending further investigation.

Until May 31 at least, tourists arriving in Hawaii will continue to be confined to their hotel rooms or be subject to arrest.

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