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Reopening Discussions Begin Cautiously

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Coronavirus cases across the state have declined significantly, with single digit new cases being reported for several days as of Sunday, while the Molokai count remains at two. Leaders across Hawaii and the U.S. are discussing the phasing and timing of reopening businesses and activities, and though Hawaii has among the lowest number of deaths nationwide at 17 as of Sunday, the state remains cautious.

“As the discussion occurs all over the world discerning when the right time will be to re-open… it’s imperative that we, in Hawaii, heed the lessons from other places, and employ the things that have worked and avoid repeating the things that haven’t,” wrote County Councilmember Keani Rawlins-Fernandez on social media. “We should not re-open until we are ready. And it’s obvious that we are not ready.”

Several states that reopened last week saw large spikes in COVID-19 as a result.

Dr. Bruce Anderson, director of the state Dept. of Health, cautioned not to let the guard down.

“With the pending reopening of businesses, we urge everyone to continue doing what they’ve been doing — stay at home, unless it’s necessary to go out, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and wear masks. For now, this is our new normal, in order to protect each other and prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.

Last week, Mayor Michael Victorino announced golf courses and some parks in Maui County will reopen as of May 1, with social distancing measures.

On Molokai, that included “Duke” Maliu Regional Park. Ironwood Hills Golf Course in Kalae also announced it is now open, for walking only.

“If we see increasing numbers of cases, we may need to re-impose restrictions,” said Victorino. “We will be watching for warning signs very carefully.”

State leaders expect the 14-day quarantine rules for incoming residents and visitors will remain in place for some time, however. The Airports Division implemented a more stringent monitoring system of arriving passengers to ensure quarantine compliance. Twenty-seven visitors have been forced to leave the state for quarantine violations or lacking proper lodging and 330 arrivals have been referred to law enforcement as of last Saturday.

Meanwhile, the summer paddling regatta season has been cancelled by the Maui County Hawaiian Canoe Association, with a pending decision on the long distance fall season, which includes the Pailolo Challenge from Maui to Molokai, scheduled for Sept. 12, and the Molokai-to-Oahu Na Wahine O Ke Kai and Molokai Hoe.

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