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Daily COVID-19 cases and degree of positivity to determine reopening phases for Honolulu

HONOLULU (KHON2) – Oahu community members and businesses have a way forward to resume during the pandemic, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said it will be based on the daily number of COVID-19 cases and the percentage of positive tests.

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Caldwell said Honolulu will follow a four-tier system for reopening phases. If COVID-19 cases and positivity levels remain low for two weeks, the county will move forward, but if either of the two sees an increase, the county will move back.

Caldwell said, “Right now with what we see, we can go to level two at the end of October, we go into level two, and then the number of cases goes back to level one.”


The mayor said that this is a conservative approach to reopening, and that it is much easier to go backwards rather than forwards under the new quarter system.

Level one, where Oahu currently stands for at least four weeks, means that there is a high level of spread of the virus in the community and that there is a burden on healthcare. This level also sees strains on COVID-19 test capacity and contact tracking.

To be able to go up to level two, cases must stay between 50 and 100 cases a day and have a fall percentage of 2.5% to 5% for two weeks.

Level three would require the county to have a moderate level of community dispersal that does not overload hospitals and contact tracking. Level four is the last phase of reopening, where the spread of the virus within society would be low and health representatives could quickly isolate the positive case.

Honolulu starts at the lower level, but many companies that were considered unnecessary in the home order can now be reopened. The mayor said companies that were shut down could begin resuming on September 24 with 50% capacity, and the same rule applies to large stores that are open.

No social gathering order was also repealed to allow groups of up to five people, this also includes at beaches and parks. Salons and hair salons can be reopened by following the best practices of COVID-19, and restaurants can serve guests indoors by limiting a table to five from the same household.

Caldwell said, “It must be on booking or you must give your names of all those who showed up at the restaurant addresses, names for contact tracking.”

The mayor said that the four levels provide openness to society and business leaders.

It also makes it clear that nothing is certain during the pandemic, entrepreneurs like Meilin Vitale-Vae had to strategize some changes. She did not renew parts of her commercial lease and had to scale down her brick and mortar Missing Polynesia shop.

“I made the executive decision to share with some people in my team, go and find something that is more stable and essential that has a better future for yourself,” said Vitale-Vae. “Go to lessons, go and do something that is firm and concrete because I can not give it to you.”

The mayor said that major events, bars and clubs will remain closed, they fall into the final fourth level of reopening.

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