To Open Or Stay Closed? That Is The Question

Covid-19 US death toll keeps rising with states reopening and more people moving around. CNN 5/10/2020

If Gov. David Ige were to appoint me to head a Re-Open Hawaii Task Force, there would be a few happy entrepreneurs, a lot of unhappy ones, and he’d be physically removed from office.

Our economy would go through nearly a year of tears, our students would lose a year of school and our personal savings would disappear, but so would this persistent coronavirus called SARS-Cov2.

Instead, we’ll likely start re-opening this month and appease the growing hostility toward the harsh government proclamations and say that some more deaths are the price for paying the rent, workers’ salaries, and getting back to educating our children.

A gambler should bet on the virus coming back from its current very low level of new infections. That’s exactly what’s happened in Seoul, Korea, and they’ve had to close the bars and nightclubs and may soon add to that emergency list.

We’ve been hard on bars and hotels and general retail shops. But not on Costco and Walmart, liquor stores, food markets, and even the Gun Shop on Sand Island Access Road. Those are all “essential”, as are hardware stores and construction projects.

But we’ve devastated the hair, nail and pedicure salons and the exercise gyms. Restaurants are limited to take-out.

I’d keep many of the closed places closed. It is foolhardy to reopen places that put a lot of customers in cramped spaces, even with masks. We’re already too loose. If you shop at Times Waialae-Kahala, you know the aisles are maybe 6-feet wide at most and if you want popular items like pastas and produce you’ll not be practicing social distancing.

We could safely open more if all shops had a customer-limit enforcer and hired extra help to wipe down everything that’s been touched. You can’t be allowed to try on clothes somebody else just tried on.

To open hotels would require some mandatory quarantining upon arrival at the airport. It would be deadly to just let tourists in after a quick check with a temperature gun.

Maybe some restaurants would follow the lead of the one in Canton, Ohio, which put a ring of shower curtaining around each table.

But you’d need a way of daily testing the waiters. We’d need a battalion of health inspectors to catch illegal short-cuts. We cannot put all businesses on the honor system and let them go at it.

We can’t open bars and clubs, period. Yes, they’ll fail but we all know that those customers are not among the most responsible and rules-abiding people.

Lastly, this: Okay, you can pressure government to open most everything so the money starts flowing again. But there’s no rule that says we must patronize all those places. We can stay away from theaters, sports events and everything drawing crowds. Many of us will. Are you ready to get on an airplane with a couple hundred other passengers? Not me. A cruise ship? Not me.

Many of us will stay home, or go to a beach, or for a walk or run or a bike or moped ride in the fresh air. Many of us will order online. We might start eating mainly through FarmLink, ordering by computer and picking up your box of food at some in-town point. Maybe the Barefoot Beach Cafe will continue its virtual BBQ on Facebook Live Friday evenings with the fixin’s you pickup up at the cafe that afternoon.

We won’t be wide open. Or fully closed.

And only some time will tell if SARS-Cov2 Wave #2 will return full strength to haunt us.

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Vietnam War, Iraq #1 in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. Married to Denby Fawcett, one daughter. Brett Jones.

4 replies on “To Open Or Stay Closed? That Is The Question”

  1. I totally agree, the foolhardiness of people eager to open, go maskless! I like living, so will continue safety practices! Thanks, Bob!

  2. Open the state. Not to people from hot spots like NY but California Mid West and Las Vegas for example. Yup shut out New Yorkers per their identification. 37% unemployment Dude. That is horrible.
    So few cases of the virus and the reason for the quarantine was for hospital availability not to end the disease. You are acting like an old fuddy duddy. Chill.

  3. I wish I could invite more people to my home for a dinner party. My house can hold 20 guests comfortably. But, I can’t imagine socializing with masked guests. And social distancing in my home? I don’t think so.

  4. Once we get the vaccine your arguments are moot. 300 million doses by the end of the year. Early next year tourism will largely recover. All visitors must show proof of vaccination. There is an end in sight to these terrible times.

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