Kim eyes reopening some businesses as long as safety measures are in place

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald A Hilo Bayfront Beach patron walks along the shore looking at rocks and shells Tuesday. Mayors in Hawaii are considering slowly opening some businesses this month.

With the state’s lockdown extended through May, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says he will seek to reopen some businesses that were deemed nonessential.

Gov. David Ige on Saturday issued another emergency proclamation extending the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order until the end of next month, but announced Monday that, after discussions with the mayors of each of the state’s counties, floral industry businesses will be allowed to resume business May 1 (see story under “Hawaii News” on the Tribune-Herald website or on page A3 of Wednesday’s print edition).


Based on those announcements, Kim said Tuesday he will investigate other businesses that can reopen safely and submit requests to the governor to reopen them as well.

“Opening or closing businesses should be based on one thing only,” Kim said. “And that is how much of a risk is there of spreading this disease.”

Kim said small businesses such as bookstores or bike shops should be allowed to reopen, in part because big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target, which carry books and bicycles, have been allowed to remain open despite drawing substantially larger crowds than smaller businesses would.

In addition, he said, those businesses “seem like they’re a natural fit for staying at home.”

Other mayors made similar comments.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said during a news conference Tuesday that he will seek to reopen automated car washes and other services, one-on-one educational services, golf courses and other businesses as early as May 1, although he conceded he will need approval from Ige to do so.

Ige’s announcement Monday about florists returning to business included conditions to ensure the safety of customers and workers, including mandatory social distancing guidelines and remote ordering and curbside pickup services.

Kim said he thinks other businesses will be able to implement similar policies and pose minimal risk for spreading the disease.

Kim also said he has no current plans to change how county parks and beaches operate during the pandemic.


Ige’s proclamation reiterated, but did not alter, the state’s beach policies. Residents can visit beaches and the ocean for exercise, fishing or other recreation, but cannot linger or gather there. Kim said the county’s policies will remain consistent with that proclamation.

Email Michael Brestovansky at

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