Quarantine could mean end for businesses

  • The Garden Island file

    Tiki Iniki at Princeville Shopping Center has outdoor and indoor seating options.

LIHU‘E — In March, the Tiki Iniki restaurant in Princeville Shopping Center was forced to close because of the pandemic.

They were able to reopen Aug. 7 with the help of federal funds, but now, with a mandatory, 14-day quarantine, it’ll close down again — possibly for good — this Saturday.

As of today, all travelers coming to Kaua‘i must quarantine for 14 days, as the county is temporarily opting out of the state’s pre-travel-testing program that allowed travelers to bypass the quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival.

“We could only reopen because we had had that stimulus PPP (Paycheck Protection Program), and we won’t be able to reopen until there is another stimulus package or tourism comes back with the two-test program that our mayor wants,” said Michele Rundgren, owner of Tiki Iniki.

Mayor Derek Kawakami initially requested to place travelers on a mandatory, three-day quarantine with a second test. Without Gov. David Ige’s approval of that plan, Kawakami then was given the go-ahead to place a temporary moratorium on Kaua‘i’s participation in the state’s pre-travel-testing program.

Rundgren said she enjoyed the success of having a business on the North Shore.

“We opened in 2013, and we have 40 employees,” Rundgren said. “I was totally for what Mayor Kawakami originally wanted, the two-test program, where the tourist would test before they came here, quarantine for three days and test again before joining Kaua‘i. I am very upset that some people are against our mayor.”

Rundgren said she supports the mayor’s first suggestion, and would rather have the people of Kaua‘i be safe than her business make a profit.

“I’d rather have everyone healthy than have a healthy bank account,” Rundgren said. “Life and health is much more important. I was really grateful for all the locals that supported us and kept us going while we waited for the tourists. We will be back again.”

Rundgren’s husband, Todd Rundgren, an American multi-instrumentalist, was also affected by COVID-19, and had to cancel three of his tours so far.

“We will have a big virtual tour in mid-February and March,” Todd Rundgren said. “Now that’s how it is. Musicians play for virtual tips.”

Erin Carrington, a physician assistant at the Specialty Clinic in Kalaheo, said she agrees with Kawakami’s proposal for a science-based, second test with limited quarantine.

“I felt that would have helped control a surge fed by community spread and fueled by infected-but-not-detected travelers to our island,” Carrington said. “When that was not approved by the governor, the mayor did the next right thing, asking for a 14-day quarantine for all travelers.”

Carrington shared her medical perspective.

“While our hospitals have worked hard putting in place surge plans, purchasing needed equipment and cross-training staff, we are still very limited on what we can do on such a small island,” Carrington said.

“Thankfully, our mayor listens to our local medical staff who can provide realistic information directly related to the needs of our island.”

Carrington said even a small surge would lead to an island-wide shutdown.

“This would directly affect our children and families who are already struggling,” Carrington said. “This would directly affect all small businesses as well. Our mayor is navigating a very difficult task in a dynamic situation, choosing the safest passage for the people of Kaua‘i through this pandemic.”

Dr. Warren Sparks of Po‘ipu Mobile MD echoed Carrington, and said he supports the mayor and his team.

“We are fortunate, on Kaua‘i, to have a cadre of very-well-informed and well-intentioned experts,” Sparks said.

“I hold in high regard Drs. Berreman, Evslin, O’Carroll and Chong-Hanssen. They can all be heard presenting on Mel (Rapozo) and Charlie’s (Iona) (Facebook) show,” he said.

“As Dr. Berreman noted, it’s not the absolute numbers, but the upward trend since Oct. 15 that is worrisome. Dr. Evslin addressed the influx of ‘infected-but-not-detected’ visitors and returning residents. For those reasons I wholeheartedly support the mayor’s decision”

He continued: “If we experience a serious surge here, we are likely to overwhelm our health-care system and our public-health system. That would lead to a total shutdown of schools and businesses. If we can continue to protect and to support one another, just hang in there for a few more months, and educate ourselves about the safety and efficacy of the proposed vaccines, there is a rainbow at the end of the storm.”

Chad Deal, a Hanalei resident since 1987, also agrees with Sparks and Carrington.

“I back our Mayor Kawakami 100% on his response during this pandemic,” said Deal, a Realtor.

“We are a small, isolated community, and if the virus catches a secure hold, it could be devastating for Kaua‘i. Our people need to pull together like we did after ‘Iniki and support each other during this crisis, and we can make it through,” said Deal.

”That not only means all of our residents working together but also our government working for us so we can come out of this with the least harm to our island’s people and our economy.”

One resident, like many on Kaua‘i who are concerned with making a living and surviving during the pandemic, is against the mayor’s decision.

“I don’t agree with the mayor’s decision because I work at the airport and rely on the tourists to come here, but no one would like to come to Kaua‘i just to spend 14 days in quarantine,” Edwin Balmores said.

Meanwhile, on Nov. 25, the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce urged members in an email to contact Ige to continue the Safe Travels program on Kaua‘i. The chamber made no further comment on this, but shared their most recent email sent to members.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” chamber President Mark Perriello said. “While the state’s Safe Travels program is far from adequate, the 14-day quarantine meant a sudden and unexpected shut down for many chamber members, and could lead to the permanent closure of many of our small businesses, putting members of our community out of work.”

Perriello went on to say that, since Oct. 15, the business community has welcomed the return of customers to their stores.

“The uptick in business means they can continue operations,” Perriello said. “Most importantly, this necessitates that their employees, including our aunties, uncles, friends and neighbors, can put food on their family’s plates this holiday season.”


Stephanie Shinno, education, business and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Ignore Ants December 2, 2020 12:34 am Reply

    Ignorance is rampant and rabid.

    Doctors too busy with learning which pill for which ill, didn’t learn immunology, and immune systems in humans and other vertebrates, which has been a basic body system in the older vertebrates for 550 million years. Intelligent people call that proven reliability.

    Doctors say that does not matter, drugs and vaccines being their Bread and Butter.

    Ignore ants? better to ignore doctors selling 4.4 Billion prescription drugs every year making America a sick nation of weak peop ae unable to cope with Covid mentally or physically.

    Me thinks the dreaded proverbial “mosquito” virus has bitten us on our collective arse.

  2. Major Lee Hung December 2, 2020 12:44 am Reply

    Again there is no mention of how masks and distancing reduce spread. No mention that Wilcox sends patients to Oahu on almost a daily basis. No mention of false positives or positive test as a result of post infection RNA fragments. No mention of those who are most vulnerable should be the ones in quarantine.
    This constant emphasis are our isolated small island with such limited hospital capacity makes you wonder who is so irresponsible as to let this go on.

    1. Real Lee Dum December 2, 2020 3:24 pm Reply

      You are so right! we should totally have a few hundred beds in our hospital maintained year round! That doesn’t cost any money. Kinda crazy how a small island has a small hospital isn’t it? Must be a total conspiracy.

  3. Jim M December 2, 2020 5:55 am Reply

    The mayors cure is worse than the disease. Protect the elderly & other at risk groups and stop penalizing everyone else. Follow the facts.

    According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is deadliest among older populations. In fact, through November 25, 92 percent of COVID-19 deaths nationwide have occurred among those ages 55 or older. Only 0.2 percent were younger than 25.

    CDC data also show that Americans, regardless of age group, are far more likely to die of something other than COVID-19. Even among those in the most heavily impacted age group (85 and older), only 9.7 percent of all deaths since February 2020 were due to COVID-19.

  4. Peter December 2, 2020 6:24 am Reply

    Today on Kauai there are zero hospitalizations due to Covid19, a current 1.7 new case 7 day average and a declining trend. Facts which were completely ignored by this “Journalist”.

    Why ? What’s your hidden agenda Ms. Shinno ?

  5. Bob December 2, 2020 6:41 am Reply

    Why would governor Ige deny the request to implement a 3-day quarantine followed by a test, but approve a 14-day quaranatine. Is Ige intentionally sabotaging us?

  6. Ono Kapoono December 2, 2020 8:18 am Reply

    These iconic restaurants with 40 employees that have been minting money for years are owned by multi millionaires who can afford to take a year off. It’s all the locals who work the hourly jobs, which are the only jobs on it on the island, that suffer. Stay broke

    1. Peke December 2, 2020 2:58 pm Reply

      Ono so true was thinking the same thing.

    2. Reality December 3, 2020 4:10 am Reply

      Employees were told in text they were let go. This right before xmas. Owners said they were fine and had enough $$ to reopen at later time. Why were they given PPP $ when they are millionaires? When the employees are treated with no dignity? and have no $$ help?

      1. Angel December 4, 2020 1:25 am Reply

        Oh yeah so the employers should keep paying their employees for the next who KNOWS how long without the employees actually WORKING to EARN that money while the business is SHUT DOWN for the next WHO KNOWS HOW LONG for as long as government officials are DEMANDING that the business is shut down if you don’t want to wind up in JAIL or HEAVILY fined for keeping the business open? Especially if the business is NOT one of those ones that can EASILY have the workers ‘work from home’ without coming into work but REQUIRES the employees to be ON SIGHT at ALL times?

        The employers are looking out for themselves. If they are going to be shut down for the next who knows how long, in their minds why should they waste what LITTLE money THEY themselves have paying employees ‘salaries’ for a business that’s not even in operation? Especially if the employer themself ISNT getting any money back from said business while it’s shut down by mandatory government order? The employer should bankrupt themselves paying salaries for employees for a business that’s no longer currently MAKING money and might NOT make money for who KNOWS how long for as long as this pandemic is going to keep running rampant in the world, and keeps getting their business shut down each time the government makes a ‘helpful’ decree to demand the business be shut down for the Greater Good of everyone except the owner of the place who NEEDS the money the place usually racks in?

        The employer needs to SAVE what little money they have left in hopes it can keep THEMSELVES going until lockdown goes away, while hoping they still have enough money left to REOPEN their business IF they can when/if the time ever comes.

        What’s the point of continuing to pay employees wages for a business that’s no longer in operation instead of just letting them all go and keeping what money the owner still has for themself in hopes they still have enough funds left when the time comes to HOPEFULLY reopen again IF they can or else they will have to say goodbye to their business that they probably have spent YEARS/DECADES building up from the ground up and don’t want to risk losing if there was still a SLIM chance that they COULD still have a business in the end of the pandemic whenever the pandemic finally 100% ends.

        If it means pissing off your soon to be former employees in order to save your business is a price to pay for the Greater Good if it means the owner can still have enough money to HOPEFULLY reopen completely one day.

    3. CB December 4, 2020 1:35 am Reply

      Your probably right on that one.

  7. J.D. December 2, 2020 8:58 am Reply

    A virus that most people have mild or no symptoms. I just read today that the CDC said they have found blood samples from early October with covid antibodies. The virus has been around along time. Many people on Kauai have probably already had the virus. More testing will increase the number of known cases.

  8. Doug December 2, 2020 9:15 am Reply

    Boy did you pick the wrong business to highlight, Todd Rundgren is worth 15 million according to Google and could easily pump money into this business if he wanted to, unlike many other businesses on the island. Did love him as the front man for The New Cars though, it was a kick ass concert!

  9. Kelli December 2, 2020 10:57 am Reply

    I think all Government officials need to go without pay and then see what kind of options they come up. If anybody thinks that the rich are going to be the ones paying taxes to help wiith the trillions we are in the hole you’ve been wathing to much tv. Sad fact is the middle and lower are going to be the ones bearing the brunt of this mess like usual.

  10. truth be known December 2, 2020 11:55 am Reply

    I ran across this excerpted article from Ed Griffin’s Report today regarding the 15 minute PCR test. If this is accurate, we should seriously question the validity of this test.

    “A group of 22 experts across the globe examined the Corman-Drosten paper, which described a protocol for applying the PCR technique to detecting Covid-19 and they found there was no science behind it. Problems with the Corman-Drosten paper include the fact that the PCR test cannot discriminate between the whole virus and viral fragments, PCR is non-specific, it is enormously variable, it has no positive or negative controls, and it has no standard operating procedure. Eurosurveillance published the Corman-Drosten paper on January, 23, 2020, just 24 hours after it was submitted, which means it is unlikely it underwent peer review. Experts from Europe, USA, and Japan, including senior molecular geneticists, biochemists, immunologists, and microbiologists, issued a demand to Eurosurveillance to retract the Corman-Drosten paper.

    Anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 using the PCR test should not be required to isolate. All present and previous Covid deaths, cases, and ‘infection rates’ should be subject to a massive retroactive inquiry. Lockdowns, shutdowns, and travel restrictions should be reviewed and relaxed. Recently, a court in Portugal ruled against a governmental health authority that had illegally confined four people to a hotel this summer.

    At least three of the authors of the Corman-Drosten paper are on the payroll of the first companies to perform PCR testing! Two of the authors of the paper are members of the editorial board of Eurosurveillance, the journal that published the paper. -GEG”

    The full article is available at: https://needtoknow.news/2020/12/20252/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=20252

  11. JLH December 2, 2020 12:08 pm Reply

    Unfortunately, the rest of the country doesn’t view covid the same way. As an essential service provider, I sell pest control service, I have not had a single day off. And, I have been required to visit customers homes and even go inside their homes. But our office closed for safety reasons. The schools want us to send out kids back. In spite of the schools reporting weekly new infections. And only half the people I see are the store are wearing masks. Many that are wearing masks may as well not be as they refuse to wear them correctly.
    The government and our jobs can’t agree on anything.
    How is it safe for me to go into a stranger’s home but not my office? How is it safe for our kids to go back to school with weekly new infections at the schools?
    If I’m expected to go to people homes, and my kids are expected to go to school, I expect to be able to go on vacation and travel when I’m ready. Without restrictions. Your freedom stops where it impedes on my freedom. And vice versa. Hawaii is the only state currently getting away with blocking interstate travel. And I bet a lawsuit is coming to stop that.

  12. Walter Funk December 2, 2020 12:42 pm Reply

    Instead of hearing how this closure affects restaurant owners with a previously famous musician husband, a real estate agent, a mayor who’s paycheck never stops coming, let’s hear from the people who work for the restaurant. Let’s hear from the housekeepers, let’s hear from the bartenders, let’s hear from all the other people who this affects. I believe that they would say start testing at the airport IMMEDIATELY and get us QUICKLY back in business before we LOSE another 8 months INCOME. What is the hold up? Get your government employees to work now on this and do not delay another minute.

    1. Jack Dawson December 3, 2020 7:59 am Reply

      I work in Kapaa at a restaurant and it’s sad what our mayor has done it’s a ghost town lots of business on the edge right now about to close for good. This island needs the tourists back. For the mayor to close us down again without any Federal help is really messed up. The only people who want us closed are retired and cushy ass county jobs. Oh and the 15-25 year olds who live with parents who just want the surf to them selfs

    2. KAI December 9, 2020 1:11 pm Reply

      I so agree with Walter and a few others on this thread. There are hundreds who are on the brink of losing their small business and possibly their homes. And the decisions that affect their lives are made by those in positions of power who come from rich families or are blessed to have a county job. Power plays by the guv and the mayor? Haven’t we seen how that has worked out in Washington?. And with a nod to today’s headlines… the chances of help coming with a new stimulus package is now out the window. The damage that has been done will send tourists to other islands than Kauai ….for years to come. And the people the journalist chose to spoke with? I thought I was reading a press release from the mayor’s office.

  13. Mike December 2, 2020 1:03 pm Reply

    The moral of this story is don’t put democrats in power, they don’t care about your small business or any business that is not government controlled.

  14. DianneJ December 2, 2020 1:16 pm Reply

    We have cancelled our trip sadly but I wanted to share our experience as some of the articles I’ve read do not give the full story.
    It was anxiety inducing trying to find a place for each of us to get our pre travel test and results in time.
    But ultimately it was the new travel restrictions here in Chicago that caused us to cancel.
    We just started to think about the big picture. There are world class hospitals here yet we now require a negative test or 14 day quarantine for travelers from almost every state.
    While we would have been exempt from needing to test on return, ( if Hawaii’s numbers didn’t explode) it just didn’t feel right for us to be leaving Chicago with its Covid situation and traveling to Kauai where the hospital situation definitely isn’t the same as here.
    The gal at the testing site told me people were taking two or three covid tests each person (mostly the free ones), from different places, which was also a factor in all the labs being overwhelmed but she also said more and more counties are requiring the pre travel covid test so it’s created a huge burden, on top of all the states with skyrocketing covid numbers.
    We understand Kauai needing to go into a protective phase, and we feel good about our decision to wait and will look forward to getting back to Kauai when it’s safer!

  15. LJ December 2, 2020 2:07 pm Reply

    This is an incredibly one-sided article. Very poor journalism to cover only one side of the issue and not speak to the thousands on Kauai who are significantly affected by the loss in business and revenue, especially small business owners. Let’s not forget that it’s businesses and the employees who pay into the unemployment fund. Closed businesses means no more funds for you to enjoy. There seems to be a lack of understanding in basic economics on Kauai, maybe ignorance is bliss.

  16. Kauaidoug December 2, 2020 2:08 pm Reply

    It is the federal government that needs to step up as we bridge the next six months to vaccines and distribution. Email your senators, congressman, mitch mcconnell to pass a frickin bill to help us all!!!!!

    1. Will December 3, 2020 6:09 am Reply

      Oh please. Like the government is going to save us and provide and protect us from a virus. Not possible. And by the way it’s pelosi who is and was holding up the second stimulus package. If you follow the news see what her latest, stimulus Bill looks like. I’ll give you a hint….it’s not good.

  17. kauainot December 2, 2020 4:47 pm Reply

    Give it a month and you will know if this decision was a good one or not. My guess is it will be the right decision. Give it time. Covid is not going away until the vaccine is readily available.

    1. Corbin December 3, 2020 6:12 am Reply

      Hey, is there any science to suggest that covid will “go away” with a vaccine? Nope, none. How’s that darn flu virus? Chicken pox, a virus is a living mutating organism that doesn’t just “go away”

  18. Jake December 2, 2020 5:19 pm Reply

    Since when did we acquire the option to sicken or kill people for money? If keeping your small business running, regardless of who it might harm, means nothing to you, then you deserve to go out of business.

  19. Care December 2, 2020 7:36 pm Reply

    Another lockdown and people dying would be worse.

  20. mike December 2, 2020 8:47 pm Reply

    The mayor said today in his daily video that “Washington, Oregon and California have also implemented 14 day quarantines on incoming travelers”. This is NOT true, these “quarantines” are advisory and voluntary.

    Kauai is currently still in Tier 4 and in fact never left that tier. The mayor panicked in restoring the 14 day quarantine. Quarantines are proven to NOT work and do more damage than good. Limited and target approaches have proven to be the right actions across the country and the world.

    A 3 day post arrival quarantine and test, which actually would be a 5 or 6 day quarantine by the time test results are available, will kill 90 plus percent of tourist travel. Residence can easily quarantine in their homes for 3-5 days. The average tourist stay is about 7 days so who wants to spend half their vacation in quarantine.

    The CDC just announced revised quarantine guide lines, hear is how it was reported: “The revised quarantine guidance says people who have been in contact with someone infected with the virus can resume normal activity after 10 days, or seven days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the pandemic began. The change is based on extensive modeling by CDC and others, said the agency’s Dr. John Brooks.” So isn’t the mayor pushing to update hsi 14 day quarantine????

  21. Everythingisawesome December 3, 2020 7:34 pm Reply

    “the tourist would test before they came here, quarantine for three days and test again before joining Kaua‘i”

    Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    Unless they have been lying to us, ‘Science’ would tell your ‘Mayor’ that tourists are not, and never have been, the majority of cases on Kauai.

  22. Recent Visitor December 4, 2020 7:27 am Reply

    I’ve visited Kaua’i ten times in the past twenty years. We love the island culture, the friendly people, and the amazing outdoor recreation. I’m also a lifelong democrat and liberal. The issue I see in Kaua’i and in California, is that people won’t consistently wear masks properly and maintain appropriate distance. I see it where I live with families from multiple houses getting together, hugging, laughing in close proximity with no masks, etc. There is also the issue of varying qualities of masks. Numerous studies have shown that proper mask wearing and appropriate distancing prevent spread. I witnessed numerous Kaua’i residents and many tourists not wearing masks or wearing them improperly. Kaua’i is the ideal location for safe travel with weather, with ample opportunities to spend time outdoors and most restaurants possessing outdoor seating. It’s a shame that people won’t just wear the masks properly to prevent spread. This would allow businesses to remain open and visitors to travel safely. Masks work but they need to be good quality and worn properly. If our governments worked properly, and this is a criticism of both parties (Dems included) we’d have public service announcements with high profile people and distribution of high quality masks for all with a requirement that in public, approved masks must be worn. If we did this, businesses would survive and we’d all be better off. I look forward to visiting again soon.

  23. StopAndThink December 9, 2020 2:15 am Reply

    This is it… I don’t know if any of you are paying attention, there is no going back to. pre-covid, as stated by Global Economic Forum Klaus Schwab. From what I understand, there won’t be money, and we’re headed for totalitarian one world government Neo-feudalistic regime. Anyone wondered what Fourth industrial revolution even means? Maybe you should ponder, hint: Transhumanism. Covid-19 was just a way to establish the precedence for all that is coming. Draconian laws, and end of USA, Constitution, everything you’re all so used to.

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