Today, Friday the 15th of May, 2020, Hawaii opened up a series of their major and commercial shopping centers and malls. Here at KAPA we had to get the scoop on the first round of shoppers going out to the malls for the first time in months so we left our Quarantine for an hour and drove around Oahu checking out the malls.
Most of the shopping centers opened their doors today around 11AM for the first time in months since Hawaii was put under a strict lock down to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. After about a solid two months of quarantining as a state, and with the lowest mortality rate in the country, government officials felt it was safe enough and time to open up the shopping malls we would all normally frequent for our fashionista needs!
“I personally feel that it's a little early to open up the stores. We aren't allowing people to try on any clothes or use the changing room, so while we do have some safety measures in place it is only a matter of time until we see if they will work. We are kind of making it up as we go.” said a store clerk who worked at one of the shopping centers. “I wish I could quarantine myself for another month or so.”
KAPA asked our friends on the Big Island to see what store clerks thought on Hawaii island. Similar to Oahu, Hawaii Island had mixed reports and responses. With only a handful of shops open at a time at the Prince Kuhio shopping center in Hilo, shoppers and employees alike are slowly coming back in larger numbers to shop after these weeks of laying low. With the 4 salons and 3 restaurants still closed, the shopping center hopes to be back up and running as soon as possible. Across the entire state, only a handful of shops and stores have decided to reopen, whilst others await the end of the Quarantine which was just extended to June 30th, 2020.
“There is a different tourist dynamic on each island. While we here on the outer islands have experienced a severe lack of tourist activity, Oahu malls may get overrun with tourists who came from Asia or the mainland. I hope everyone quarantined appropriately.” Told Lyle, a Big Island resident.
“Like with many corporate stores, shops and boutiques owned by mainland offices, we (employees) take daily surveys about our comfort level returning to work. These surveys are all looked at, and answers are averaged across each state” said Bri, a shop clerk at Ala Moana shopping center which opened up today at 11AM! “I feel that my company has done a good job of containing the virus and taking necessary actions to protect their employees. That has little to do with the mall itself or even our government.”
Different corporate offices at different stores have different policies of course, and so various doors that aren't local companies await their corporate “go ahead” before opening up again.
While we did leave Quarantine to see what was going on, like Macys, the stores are still closed for us here at KAPA. From our car, we could see dozens of eager local shoppers lining up, six feet apart from each other, to get inside Apple Stores and Wholefoods. No doubt happy and eager to be out of the house. We were pleased to see security guards and store clerks enforcing mask and distance laws on all mall premises.
During the lockdown, we have all noticed a wonderful lack of traffic and other cars on the road. For weeks, the streets and roads have been significantly slower, even downtown and around Waikiki. But with the announcement of malls opening up, we hit bumper to bumper traffic coming back into town from Aiea. Equipped with shopping bags and surf boards, dozens of folks poured into town to hit the beach and do some shopping in the Ala Moana area. That being said, many shoppers looking to head into Ala Moana may have been disappointed, as only few of the bigger mainland chain stores are open. Macys, for example, plans to open next Friday, but other bigger name brand Department stores are yet to release dates of reopening.
“Grocery stores over the past few weeks have slowly seen a lot more customers coming back for food. I'm sure that's the case everywhere. But I can tell that people will likely be eager to get back to shopping and being outside after so long in quarantine. That's probably who we will see when clothing stores and other sort of boutiques open up.” Told a store manager on Maui island in Kahului who wished to remain anonymous.
What do you think? Are we moving too fast to be back outside and return to some sort of normal after all this time? Or are we ready to reopen everything and relatively in the clear to get all of our businesses back up and running?. One thing is certain, these are crazy times for us all, and we are all going to have to find ways to make a mask and gloves as fashion forward as we can.
Here at KAPA we are extremely grateful for all of our first responders and essential workers who continue to make the world turn in such tumultuous times.
Please stay safe, clean, healthy and well.
We in Hawaii have set a standard for the rest of the world to follow and observe.
Let's stay smart and vigilant to protect our kupuna and communities.
Until next time!
Thank you for reading and as always Alooooooha!