On Tuesday, Governor David Ige announced his “Safer at Home” order, which included the first phase of reopening our economy by allowing low-risk businesses to resume work. However, with variations between the counties and different messages provided at press conferences, there has been a lot of confusion about what businesses are allowed to be open and when.

In a nutshell, starting today, May 7, the following may open with modified practices:

  • Agriculture (non-food), such as landscape, ornamental plant growers, and nurseries
  • Auto Dealerships
  • Car Washes
  • Childcare Services, licensed or authorized under the law
  • Non-emergency healthcare services (by appointment only)
  • Observatories & Support Facilities
  • Pet Grooming Services
  • Retail & Repair Services, such as apparel, florists, watch & surfboard repair *Note: Maui County opens on May 11 and O‘ahu opens May 15

  • Shopping Malls *Note: Maui County opens on May 11 and O‘ahu opens May 15

Although businesses are starting to open, we are still “safer at home” and should try to minimize trips out to prevent a spike in new COVID-19 cases. Residents are still expected to refrain from social gatherings with people outside of their household members and when shopping should try to keep their trips short and purposeful. The Governor has warned that restrictions may need to be reinstated if there is a surge in cases.

There are many conditions and nuances in the Governor’s latest proclamation. We’ve tried to simplify it as much as possible, but when in doubt please refer to the full proclamation here (much of the relevant information is in Exhibit G).

Businesses should adjust operations to allow for adequate social distancing, frequent sanitation, encourage good hygiene practices, and require face coverings to be worn. Anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms should not be allowed within the business.

Auto dealerships should conduct business by appointment only and capacity limits should be enforced to allow for adequate distancing. Test drives are not allowed on O‘ahu, but in other counties, test drives should be limited to 10 minutes or less, the vehicle should be disinfected before and after use, and customers and employees should wear face coverings during the drive.

Customers should stay in their vehicle at all times and businesses should limit the number of employees to allow for physical distancing. Measures such as closing vacuum areas and only allowing drying towels to be used by employees, should be utilized to minimize contact between employees and customers.

Healthcare services and facilities are deemed essential services under the Governor’s order. The Governor has currently not lifted the order to postpone or cancel elective surgery as deemed appropriate by each facility. Healthcare services may include but are not limited to hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, eye care centers, and veterinary care. Please consult with your health care provider or call ahead to make an appointment.

To minimize the spread of COVID-19, there should be strong sanitization practices (clean and disinfect facility, clean shared equipment between use), prevent gatherings of more than ten people, encourage visitors to avoid touching surfaces, and maximize physical distancing through capacity restrictions or reconfiguring the layout.

Pet groomers can open for appointment only business. Pet owners should wait outside the facility except for drop-off and pick-up. Groomers should practice good hygiene (i.e. wash hands frequently and change gloves between customers), use disposable equipment when possible, and disinfect all tools and surfaces between customers.

While retail businesses are permitted, they must adhere to strict guidelines to minimize risk. Some measures include limiting occupancy to allow for adequate social distancing and closing fitting rooms. Although malls may be open, food court dining areas, play areas, entertainment areas, common areas, arcades, game rooms, beauty/hair/nail salons and theaters are not. Food courts may be open but for delivery or takeout only.

The opening of retail business varies by county. Hawai‘i Island and Kaua‘i businesses may open as early as May 7, while retailers on Maui must wait until May 11 and O‘ahu until May 15.

Starting next Friday, May 15, safety inspection stations are being allowed to reopen. Although the inspections are resuming, the safety check waivers are still in place. This means that if your safety check is expired or expires in May, it will be good until August 31. If your safety check expires later this year, your sticker will be valid for an additional 3 months after it expires.

Please know that county proclamations and orders may be more restrictive. You should consult with county authorities about their requirements and restrictions on your activity or business: