LIHUE — Mixed feelings abound as Kaua‘i residents mull over the newest extension of the statewide stay-at-home order through May 31, handed down by Gov. David Ige last week.
The governor has also opened up the beaches and parks for exercising again, but social-distancing and other COVID-19-related rules are still in place.
“This was not an easy decision,” Ige said in a press release about the stay-at-home extension.
“I know this has been difficult for everyone. Businesses need to reopen. People want to end this self-isolation and we want to return to normal. But this virus is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Thanks to our residents, we are flattening the curve, saving lives, and avoiding a resurgence of this virus by not reopening prematurely.”
Residents may leave their homes only for essential needs, which includes medical care, purchasing groceries, taking care of kupuna, and picking up educational materials for students and outside exercising.
Casey Quel Fitchett of Hanama‘ulu agrees with the extended stay-at-home order, saying Tuesday that it’s a good move now that Hawai‘i is “flattening the curve.”
“It makes sense to continue the quarantine,” said Quel Fitchett. “I think opening up businesses should be considered as long as they have safety procedures like the grocery stores. He (Ige) also needs to help the unemployment office fix their online issues.”
County Councilmember Felicia Cowden of Kilauea said her policy choice would be for Kaua‘i to have the month of May in careful “lock-out” of outsiders rather than economic and community lock-down.
“We can rebuild and strengthen our local economy. This has long been needed. This gives us another month to see positive national and global movements of treating patients successfully and more antibodies testing happening in order to gain a stronger understanding of the lethality of the virus, “ said Cowden, emphasizing any person choosing to observe the stay-at-home precautions to protect themselves or their household’s vulnerability could continue on the financial assistance and excuses from work that have been promised.
“If June arrives with no new Kaua‘i cases and an evident management team controlling the virus, we can begin a careful process of opening our doors,” said Cowden.
While some are content with the extended order, others like Tricia Maneja of Kapa‘a are getting antsy, and don’t see a valid reason to continue the stay-at-home orders.
“People on Kaua‘i are getting frustrated on the extending stay-at-home order until May 31,” said Maneja. “They wanna go back to work and enjoy the outside life.”
Micah Hee of Kapa‘a said Tuesday that he is feeling a bit depressed.
“I feel trapped. I would rather have freedom and play softball at the parks,” said Hee.
With flights still coming into Hawai‘i, there are some who agree with Cowden on concerns that the stay-at-home order is not enough to keep the community safe.
Mel Rapozo, county investigator and former council chair, said that’s the bigger concern. If flights to Hawai‘i resume on May 1, he said Kaua‘i could be involved in a game of “Russian roulette, unless we force these visitors to be quarantined in a supervised facility.”
According to the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint information Center’s latest information, people are still coming to Hawai‘i. Just on Monday, 500 people arrived in the state on a total of 11 flights, including 149 visitors.
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.