Hilo retailers begin reopening

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald Allison Thelen sells guitar strings to a customer through a plastic window Thursday outside Music Exchange in Hilo. The store opened, but is operating in a take-out only capacity to help keep people safe.

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald Allison Thelen comes outside to help a customer Thursday at Music Exchange in Hilo. Music Exchange opened for the first time Thursday since closing during the stay-at-home order that prevented nonessential businesses from operating.

Some retailers are reopening this week after Gov. David Ige softened restrictions during the extended stay-at-home order.

Announced on Tuesday, the governor’s latest proclamation allows “low-risk” businesses to reopen, so long as they follow social distancing guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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Music Exchange reopened both of its stores Thursday in Hilo and Kona using a takeout-only system.

“We’re a very hands-on store,” said manager Allison Thelen. “If we opened up completely, it would be so hard to make sure everything is sanitized at all times.”

When customers arrive, they call the store to ask for the musical equipment they want to purchase, and Thelen meets them outside to make the sale.

“We’re trying to make this work as easily as possible,” she said. “This is earlier than we thought we’d be able to open, and doing curbside will keep most people safe.”

Prince Kuhio Plaza is planning a tentative opening Saturday, with social distancing measures enforced throughout the stores and mall.

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“I’m not sure what stores will be open just yet,” said mall manager Daniel Kea. “Some stores are working tirelessly to get their employees back in place.”

According to Ige’s proclamation, shopping malls can allow patrons to walk from one retailer to the next, but all common areas must be closed.

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