Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – The House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness today shared an updated health and economic “dashboard” with guidelines for the public and businesses to easily understand where the state stands in its public health risk and economic reopening schedule.
Hawaiʻi Medical Service Association President & CEO Dr. Mark Mugiishi helped create the dashboard to provide a clear way to communicate disease activity, health care capacity, current risk levels with business and operations allowed at each level.
Mugiishi said we are currently in a yellow reopening level, titled "act with care." This reopening status level shows that many businesses can reopen with physical distancing and safe practices in place.
The committee discussed the need for clear communications from state and county leaders to be sure that the business community and residents know exactly what health practices are required and what business need to do to reopen.
State Attorney General Clare Connors said in this statewide emergency situation, cooperation is critical. Connors said Governor David Ige and all the county mayors meet three time a week to discuss issues such as the reopening of businesses. Even though the Governor has the final say, each county will reopen different activities based on its needs and safety level.
Alan Oshima, the Governor’s Recovery and Resiliency Navigator, said the mayors are responsible for implementing changes to social and business restrictions for their respective counties. There are overall state guidelines, reflected in the dashboard, and each county has its own guideline for activities such as hair salons, restaurants, ocean recreation, and children's sports.
Oshima said if a resident or a business is not sure about how restrictions apply to them, they should look to the counties for guidance on their websites. He will have each counties rules posted on the state Navigator Website this week to make those guidelines easier to find.
Carl Bonham, Executive Director of University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO), updated the state's economic outlook for the committee. Bonham said reports issued last week by UHERO and the state Department of Business and Economic Development were similar in many ways. He said the local economy has already begun to reopen and we are starting to see positive economic effects.
Although he expressed concerns about what will happen when federal unemployment and loan support ends in July, he expects the local economy to continue to improve and the tourism economy to slowly reopen, recovering about half its jobs by the end of the year.
Bonham said with mainland markets opening quicker than Hawaiʻi's because we are dependent on air travel, many workers here that exhaust their unemployment benefits and have no family ties for support will move to the mainland to find work. He expects our population to drop by about 30,000 people by 2022.
Joseph Lapilio and Na'alehu Anthony of the Native Hawaiian group ʻĀina Aloha gave the committee a presentation on developing strategies for economic development.
They told the committee about the group's economic futures declaration and call for unity using Native Hawaiian voices, values and experiences to influence economic recovery. Their guiding principles include being sustained by the 'āina, leadership that embraces accountability to the community, creativity and innovation to challenge the status quo, and to be inclusive to the collective during this global challenge.
To learn more go to their website at https://www.ainaalohafutures.com/
The committee will meet again on Monday, June 15.
For more information about the committee and to see related documents go to https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/specialcommittee.aspx?comm=cov&year=2020.