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State briefs for October 23

Bar owners sue over tiered reopening plan

HONOLULU — Some Honolulu bar owners filed a lawsuit claiming the city’s tiered system for reopening businesses during the coronavirus pandemic is arbitrary.

Bars and nightclubs on Oahu remain closed under emergency orders to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and bar owners fear the closures could last into next year.

Bars are in a high-risk category in the tiered system and expected to be in the last round of businesses allowed to reopen.

The system requires Oahu’s seven-day average to fall below 20 new coronavirus diagnoses for two consecutive weeks before the city will consider letting bars reopen.

The plaintiffs say it’s unfair for restaurants to be allowed to reopen as long as they serve food, despite also selling alcohol as a part of their regular menus.

Micronesian community eager to fill vacancy

HONOLULU — The state’s Micronesian community has experienced a diplomatic leadership void throughout the coronavirus pandemic because of an ongoing vacancy at the nation’s Honolulu consulate.

The Federated States of Micronesia has been without a representative at its consulate in Honolulu since last year.

Micronesian community leaders said they do not know why the seat has not been filled, especially as virus cases have recently increased among the state’s Pacific Islander residents.

Pacific Islanders in Hawaii, including Micronesians, have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. They represent 27% of the state’s cases but only 4% of the population.

Oahu resident and Kosraean native Shanty Sigrah Asher was nominated to fill the consulate position.

Asher failed three times to gain the necessary votes in the Federated States of Micronesia Congress, while an online petition supporting her has gained more than 1,700 signatures.

Asher assists Honolulu as a temporary liaison to the Pacific Islander community.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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