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County takes nonpunitive approach toward enforcement of rules for ‘medium-risk’ businesses

With restaurants, personal services and places of worship allowed to begin reopening next week, the county is taking a nonpunitive approach in enforcing hygiene standards.

Most nonessential businesses throughout the state shut down in mid-March to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and only recently began to gradually reopen. Last week, Mayor Harry Kim announced that “medium-risk” establishments — including restaurants, places of worship and “personal services” such as salons and personal trainers — will be allowed to reopen starting Monday, June 1, albeit with strict health and hygiene requirements.

However, Kim said Tuesday that the county will take a conciliatory approach toward enforcing those requirements.

“We’re telling people, ‘These are the things that are required,’ and if someone tells us they’re not doing them, then we’ll advise them to fix it,” Kim said. “We don’t want to go right to punishing people right away. That isn’t how we want to do this.”

Deputy Fire Chief Lance Uchida, who leads the county’s COVID-19 task force, said repeat violators can be referred to law enforcement, but added that such measures would be used as a last resort.

“When there’s a violation, we’ll do education first and try to gain positive compliance,” Uchida said. “If they need to be re-educated, we’ll do that.”

Uchida said the task force has visited “close to 500” businesses since the phased reopening began, educating owners and employees on what the guidelines are. Many of the businesses that will be allowed to reopen next week have submitted their plans to the task force to ensure they meet the county’s requirements.

The county’s requirements for this latest phase of reopening largely draw upon guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those guidelines strongly advise the continued use of cloth masks for staff and customers, frequent sanitization, liberal use of worker sick days and the restructuring of communal spaces to discourage social gathering.

Kim said businesses are not required to submit their plans to the county in advance of reopening, but added that the task force will want to examine the practices of all businesses when they reopen.

Email Michael Brestovansky at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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