LIHU‘E — Mounque “Monk” Barazone wanted to rent his one-bedroom, oceanfront condo at Kaua‘i Beach Villas last week.
A family reached out to him about his property that he has listed on the vacation-rental site VRBO. They wanted to isolate their grandparents from the rest of the family to keep them safe, just in case.
Barazone agreed, and also cut the price substantially. However, he wanted his housekeeper to ensure the space was clean and sanitized daily, since it is his home. When he came to her with the job, she said she couldn’t come.
“She said she wasn’t essential,” Barazone said over the phone from Ohio, where he is hunkering down during the global COVID-19 pandemic. “She said it was against the rules.”
Barazone then called the Kaua‘i Police Department’s non-emergency line, and they told him the same thing.
So he turned away the family.
However, housekeepers are essential according to the “critical trades” section of Mayor Derek Kawakami’s emergency rules that limit travels for non-essential activities. These rules localize Gov. David Ige’s statewide stay-at-home order that became effective last week.
The rule states that “service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences” are allowed. And Barazone and his housekeeper aren’t the only ones confused. Other residents have been voicing confusion on the mayor’s stay-at-home order as well.
Last week, the KPD began setting up daily checkpoints throughout the island to enforce these rules.
Before doing so, KPD trained its officers on the emergency rules, according to the mayor’s Chief of Staff Sarah Blane, in an email earlier this week.
The checkpoints, which have been on-going, essentially stop residents to ask where they are going to make sure they are in compliance with the emergency rules.
When the rules came out earlier this month, the county listened to residents.
“After publicizing emergency rule No. 5, we did receive feedback from the public and businesses owners,” Blane said. “After receiving this feedback and consulting with health officials, we were able to amend those rules accordingly.”
Some of the exceptions to the rules include exercise, picking up groceries and going to the bank. The KPD recently published a four page list of frequently-asked questions, too. TGI is endeavoring to help clarify specific questions related to the stay-at-home order as well. Questions can be submitted to: tinyurl.com/TFIQ-A. See A4 for recent questions and answers.
Since the enforcement of quarantines and lockdowns went into effect and a near stop in airline flights and visitors entering the island, Barazone’s been losing money. And fast.
“I’m refunding people faster than I have money coming in,” he said.
Normally, he would be making about $1,000 a week on his property.
Guests have canceled for all of April and May. Visitors expected to come in June are wary, he said, because they don’t know if lockdowns will be extended past federally mandated stay-at-home orders.
“The problem is, (the government) says April 30, which could easily become May 30,” he said.
Barazone is 71, and splits his time between Kaua‘i, California and the Midwest. With his own underlying conditions, including heart problems and diabetes, even he doesn’t want to travel.
“The last thing I want is to be exposed to it,” he said.
He’s since raised and lowered the price of the condo’s nightly rate. Normally, he’d charge between $99 and $129 per night, and makes between $20,000 and $25,000 income on rentals a year.
“I put it sky-high because if anybody wants to rent it, I have to account for disinfecting fees,” he said. Usually, he’d have about three or four inquiries on the space a week, but since March, he’s had none. Only cancellations. Barazone, who is self employed, said he’s concerned, too, with how he’ll pay his homeowners’ association fees and utilities in the upcoming months. The outbreak has not only slowed his rental business, but his construction and paving businesses on the mainland.
He wishes he knew more about the rules before he had to turn away the family looking to isolate their grandparents, and had to turn away his housekeeper.
It feels like “you can’t do anything. It’s not just impacting me,” he said. “If she can’t go clean, she can’t pay her rent, too.”
Blane suggested that those with questions can find the rules at kauai.gov/COVID-19, call the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency at 241-1800, or message the county’s Facebook page. She discouraged calls to police dispatch for COVID-19-related questions or issues, unless they required police assistance.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.