Ige: Stay home, Hawaii; Governor issues statewide lockdown through April 30

  • IGE

  • In this Friday, March 20, 2020, file photo, as beachgoers are seen in the background, yellow caution tape wrapped across Waikiki in Honolulu. Hawaii's governor has instituted a mandatory 14-day self quarantine starting Thursday, March 27, of all people traveling to the state as part of efforts to fight the spread of coronavirus. The order applies to returning residents, as well as visitors. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)

  • State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, left, and state health director Dr. Bruce Anderson, right, practice social distancing during media conference Monday in Honolulu. (Dan Dennison/State of Hawaii)

Gov. David Ige said Monday his statewide lockdown order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is “aimed at social distancing — the single most effective way of controlling this deadly virus.”

“I cannot stress enough that we need everyone to please stay at home or in their place of residence,” Ige said during an afternoon news conference. “… As alien as it might be for those of us in the Aloha State, we must avoid physical contact with friends and loved ones to protect all of us in this crisis.”

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The order, which he signed Monday, goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday and remains in effect through April 30.

There are exceptions to the so-called “stay-at-home order,” including driving to and from work for jobs deemed essential, and for those needing “health care, purchasing food, medicine and gas, taking care of elderly, minors or those with disabilities, returning to a place of residence outside of Hawaii, picking up educational materials for distance learning, receiving meals and other related services, and outdoor exercise,” Ige said.

“You should stay at home,” he continued. “If you need to go to work, go to work, and when you’re done with work, you should come back home. If you need to get groceries and necessities, you should go get groceries and necessities. For any other time, you should be at home.”

Businesses defined as essential include: health care services and facilities, pharmacies, grocery stores and other retailers of food; restaurants for off-premises consumption only; transportation; gas stations and other business essential for transportation; educational facilities; financial institutions; media outlets; telecommunication facilities; hotels; hardware and construction supply and contractors; charitable organizations; laundry services; funeral homes and crematories; critical government services such as police, fire, rescue, emergency medical services, courts and correctional facilities; professional services such as lawyers and accountants; residential facilities and shelters; childcare providers; and manufacturers of equipment and supplies deemed critical.

Any gathering of more than 10 individuals is prohibited.

Facilities ordered closed include: fitness centers and gyms; locations with amusement rides; carnivals; water parks; aquariums; zoos; museums; arcades; fairs; children’s play centers; playgrounds; funplexes; theme parks; bowling alleys; movie and other theaters; concert and music halls; and social clubs.

The governor’s move comes after the mayors of Honolulu and Maui counties in recent days announced their own stay-at-home orders. Honolulu’s order took effect at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Some of Oahu’s largest malls, Ala Moana Center and Pearlridge, each announced they would close in response.

Mayor Harry Kim said Monday he is “happy there is now one cohesive statewide order” instead of every county going its own way.

“I, of course, plan to comply with the governor’s order,” Kim said.

The supplemental proclamation has the force of law, and a misdemeanor conviction for violating it could land an individual in jail for up to a year, fines of up to $5,000, or both.

“These actions are extreme but necessary for us to flatten the curve and lay the groundwork for our recovery,” Ige said. “… The focus, initially, would be on education. We do understand that a stay-at-home order has never been implemented in our communities. So a lot of the initial effort will be to inform those who may be violating the order what the order is and how it applies to them.

“… We would be providing warnings and taking increasingly aggressive action to insure that we are able to enforce the order.”

Police will be responsible for enforcing the lockdown order. Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and the state’s adjutant general, conceded during the weekend that it will be difficult to enforce.

Ige also announced an extension for individual and corporate income tax return filing deadlines from April 20 to July 20, mirroring President Donald Trump’s extension of federal tax return filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.

“If you are expecting a refund for tax year 2019, you should plan to file as soon as possible,” he said.

During the weekend, Ige issued an emergency proclamation requiring all travelers who come to the islands to stay in quarantine for 14 days after they arrive. Officials said they expect most tourists simply won’t come after hearing about the new rule, which takes effect Thursday.

The state Department of Health said that, as of noon Monday, there were 72 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, with another five “presumptive positives,” making the statewide total of cases 77. Four people have required hospitalization.

Two more cases were reported on the Big Island, bringing the total here to five.

“Today, we’ve seen reports of 21 (new) cases of COVID-19 under investigation,” said state Health Director Bruce Anderson on Monday. “That’s, of course, twice what we saw yesterday, which is what we expected. We expected to see more cases given the increased number of samples being collected and processed and tested. But it does indicate that the virus is still a significant threat to Hawaii.”

He said residents “have actually been responsible, in most cases, for introducing the virus to our state.”

Anderson said more than 3,300 COVID-19 tests have been administered statewide.

“Most of those were done at private laboratories,” he said.

Anderson described Hawaii’s physicians as the “front lines in the defense against this virus.”

“They have been diligent about investigating cases, evaluating those cases, and of course, getting appropriate testing done on patients who are ill. And we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them as partners in this effort,” he said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.