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Oahu reopens beaches and stores: is Hawaii open for business?

Oahu reopens beaches right in time for those summer, surf-filled days. With crowds flocking to the waters and summer in swing, we talked with surf and swimwear stores about what it’s like to be open for business.

On May 16, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell reopened Oahu beaches but with some restrictions still in place. Unlike before, beachgoers are now allowed to sit and gather on shores. However, all groups must be of the same household and are limited to 10 people. Those who aren’t from the same household must stay 6 feet apart.

Like many Oahu residents, Hiilei Ellis and her family headed straight to the beaches when they heard the news.

“I went to Sherwood Beach on the east side, but it felt like I was in Waikiki,” said Ellis. “There were so many people. But for the most part, I would say people were following the social distancing rules. It was nice seeing families out together, getting fresh air, getting exercise, since most of us have been cooped up in our houses for the past couple of months.”

On the same day beaches reopened, Ocean Safety lifeguards had to rescue more than 250 people.

Oahu retailers and shopping malls reopened for the first time since March as well.

San Lorenzo Bikinis reopened four of its five store locations on May 15. Customers must wear a face mask and maintain the 6-feet-apart social distancing rule when shopping.

According to Kara Toth, a sales associate at the company’s Haleiwa store location, San Lorenzo has been taking extra precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“We have signs on all dressing rooms saying we are not doing clothing try-ons. We’re making sure we’re sanitizing all countertops and surfaces multiple times a day,” said Toth.

“The first weekend was pretty busy. People are buying and we’re getting pretty good sales, but we’re also telling them that in the next week or two, we have a brand new drop coming to bring people back.”

Water sport rental company Tropical Rush Surf Co. plans to reopen its Haleiwa store on May 23.

“I think a lot of [our customers] are going to be the locals,” said Store Manager Glen Lane. “We’ll be renting boards and other gear. We just won’t be launching off the property.”

Similar to San Lorenzo Bikinis, Tropical Rush Surf Co. will also take precautionary steps to assure the safety of its customers.

“There are pretty strict guidelines. There’s things about the square footage and how many people you can have in the store at a time,” said Lane.

The reopening of Oahu beaches and retailers is part of Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s four-phase plan to reopen Hawaii’s economy. Medium-risk businesses, such as gyms, salons, and dine-in restaurants, are set to open in early June with restrictions in place. No exact date has been provided as of yet.

Ige recently extended the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers until June 30. At a virtual press conference on June 1, the governor announced that the mandatory quarantine for inter-island travelers will be over on June 16.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

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Featured image courtesy of Cassidy Keola | LiveFEED

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