HPD says bar and restaurant owners who flout Mayor Caldwell’s closure order could face fines, prison
UPDATE: 7:10 p.m.
Honolulu Police Department officials said the operator of a restaurant or bar could “in rare cases” be arrested and face a hefty fine and/or jail time for violating Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s new emergency proclamation requiring the closure of all bars and nightclubs, and mandating restaurants and cafes that serve food to either offer drive-through, pickup and/or delivery service or shutter its doors.
Caldwell’s proclamation is effective 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Upon a receiving a report of a possible violation, “an officer will be sent to the establishment to meet with and inform the owner or manager of the rules and orders that have been put in place due to the current state of emergency,” HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said. “Anyone who refuses to comply could be warned, cited or, in rare cases, arrested. The penalty is up to a $2,000 fine and/or one year imprisonment.”
“We really think that our business owners are conscientious and that they will be responsible and comply on their own,” Police Chief Susan Ballard said.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed an order requiring all Oahu restaurants, bars and nightclubs to close indoor and outdoor dining services starting at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
“We do not want people to gather together,” the mayor said.
The order will be good for at least 15 days, Caldwell said at an afternoon news conference from Honolulu Hale where he discussed city government’s latest response to the coronavirus crisis.
Takeouts and delivery services will be allowed to continue and Caldwell urged restaurateurs to do so.
The prohibition does not apply to stores, supermarkets, offices or other types of businesses although state and federal health officials are strongly recommending that no more than 10 people gather in one place.
In response to questions, Caldwell said he consulted with city Acting Corporation Counsel Paul Aoki before making the decision to sign the order. “We’re on solid legal ground,” he said.
The mayor was not clear on specifically how the restaurant closure order would be enforced. “We’re hoping that businesses will comply,” Caldwell said. “I believe that we are a community where we care about each other and that when orders are issued, most people if not all will follow them.”
Caldwell said he thinks customers will provide those who don’t observe the order the proper ramifications by not patronizing them.
“If need be, we can investigate and crack down but I’m hoping that does not occur,” Caldwell said. “That would fall partly to to the Honolulu Police Department — they’re super busy with all kinds of other issues and we don’t want to put this burden on their plate so I’m hopeful we’ll get the compliance that this order mandates.”
Caldwell also announced that all city facilities including parks will be closed through April 30. The city does not have jurisdiction over the sand below the so-called “high water mark” to the ocean. In acknowledgement of that, city lifeguards will continue to work their areas.
Other city facilities that will be closed and weren’t announced before today: the Honolulu Zoo, city golf coourses and tennis courts. Comfort stations at all city facilities will be closed, he said.
Caldwell also signed into law Bill 35, allowing him to tap $120 million in rainy day funds to tackle the affects of the coronavirus crisis. The City Council voted 7-0 this morning to approve the measure.
He said city bus and Handi-Van services will continue on a regular schedule, but urged riders to maintain social distance.
Core city services, including police fire, ambulance, and ocean safety will function as normal, he said, as will city garbage, sewer and water services.
Managing Director Roy Amemiya said those city employees who are deemed “non-essential” will be required to work from home if the job allows it. Other non-essential workers would be required to stay at home and not work, but will get paid but he stressed that there are only a limited number of employees in that category.
The city has roughly 10,000 employees, including about 2,000 police officers, 1,000 firefighters, 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians. They will all be working.
Among other city services that will continue: satellite city halls and Department of Planning and Permitting customer service desks as well as inspection services.
Watch the livestream video from today’s press conference beginning at 3 p.m.
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