HONOLULU — More than two weeks of single-digit daily new cases of coronavirus is allowing Hawaii to take the next step in reopening the state’s economy, Gov. David Ige said Tuesday in announcing more businesses that will be allowed to operate.
Starting Thursday, businesses including shopping malls, astronomical observatories, car washes and pet groomers may reopen, Ige said. Elective surgery and non-emergency health services will also be allowed.
Patrons must practice social distancing and wear cloth masks, he said.
Ige previously allowed businesses such as golf courses, some real estate services and car dealerships to reopen.
“We have some of the lowest numbers of cases in the country and we have flattened the curve,” he said.
There were four new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday, bringing Hawaii’s total to 625. There have been 17 Hawaii deaths.
Ige’s stay-at-home order that allowed for activities such as outdoor exercise will now be called a “safer-at-home” order, he said.
“COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on our economy and this is the first step in reopening businesses and getting people back to work,” he said.
Officials will look at opening higher-risk businesses such as hair salons, churches and restaurants in subsequent phases, Ige said.
Ige warned that if there’s a surge in cases, some restrictions may have to be reinstated.
“We have seen a recurrence in several places around the world and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen here in Hawaii,” he said.
A 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving in Hawaii remains in effect as the tourist-dependent state grapples with massive unemployment.