Hawaii governor announces state's four-phase reopening plan

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After announcing an extension of the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all Hawaii arrivals through June 30, Gov. David Ige delivered his vision for gradually reopening the state the following week.

The color-coded, four-phase plan looks to open up the Aloha State economy in stages, with  "medium-risk" businesses and activities, such as salons and restaurants, opening starting next month with social distancing measures in place.

"We have to work together and empower ourselves by acting with care and taking personal responsibility for Hawaii's safe reopening," Ige said.

Currently, Hawaii is in phase one, with retailers and shopping malls recently allowed to reopen. During phase two, salons and barbers, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, houses of worship and museums will all be allowed to operate again with new health procedures.

Industries considered "high-risk," such as bars and clubs, will have to wait for phase three. Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited under phase two, and high-risk individuals, such as the elderly or those with respiratory conditions, are advised to stay at home as much as possible. 

From May 7 to 15, the state allowed agricultural work, auto dealerships, car washes, pet grooming services, observatories and support facilities, retail and repair services, and shopping malls to resume business.

Ige did not offer a timeline for when bars and larger venues could reopen as part of phase three. Phase four consists of all sectors of the economy reopening but with various social distancing and health measures in place. The end of phase four would indicate a full reopening with no disruptions, which the state has dubbed "new normal."

During the announcement, Ige said reopening could lead to a rise in infections, and restrictions could return if the spread of the new coronavirus cannot be controlled sufficiently. There will be a 14-day observation period between reopening phases to give the government time to assess the health reports before moving into the next phase, and decisions will be made in conjunction with state and local officials.

Some island mayors have already moved to speed up the process. Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami lobbied the governor to allow tutors, fitness trainers, hair stylists, nail technicians and other one-on-one services to return by May 22. He is also seeking to reopen of public swimming pools, religious services, ziplines, ATV and horseback tours, housekeeping, manufacturing, and construction on the Garden Isle. Kawakami said he would like to move faster than the statewide plan because Kauai has not registered any new Covid-19 infections in more than a month.

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