Protect Employees and the Workplace During Coronavirus-Related Disruption

The outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020 – is disrupting workplaces around the world, and Hawaii is no exception.

Recent developments in the State of Hawaii as well as in the federal government include:

  • On April 21, 2020, the City & County of Honolulu extended the stay-at-home mandate (originally through April 30th) through May 31st. The mandate orders all individuals to stay at home and work from home except for certain essential activities and work to provide essential business and government services or perform essential public infrastructure construction, including housing. To determine what activities and businesses are considered essential, see the Mayor’s order.
  • On April 25, 2020, the State of Hawaii extended the statewide stay-at-home order (originally through April 30) through May 31st, requiring individuals to stay at home except for essential activities, to engage in essential businesses and operations, and only if their work cannot be conducted through remote technology from home. The mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for travelers (originally through May 20) was also extended through May 31st. 
  • Effective April 10, 2020, the County of Maui ordered a curfew from 11pm-5am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 
  • Effective March 20, 2020, the County of Kauai ordered a curfew from 9pm-5am for all but essential services and activities. 
  • Effective March 17, 2020, the State of Hawaii mandated a number of actions to slow the spread of COVID-19, including: the closing of bars and clubs; prohibiting dine-in service at restaurants; limiting gatherings to groups of 10 or less; avoiding discretionary travel.
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law, provides paid sick leave or family leave related to COVID-19 beginning on or after April 2, 2020.
  • Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020, provides aid to small business including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to cover payroll and other operating expenses, SBA economic injury disaster loans (EIDL), and debt relief for new and existing SBA loans. 
  • The Hawai`i Economic & Community Navigator has been established by Governor Ige to coordinate, direct and implement a statewide economic and community recovery and resiliency plan. 

Employers' resources for business relief include:

Employers should continue to:

Additional resources include:

  • USDOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) interim “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19” (March 2020)
  • OSHA poster titled “Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus,” available for download to keep posted at your workplace.
  • EEOC revised pandemic guidelines for employers (“What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws”). Updated topics include:
    • Reasonable accommodation and the interactive process; temporary accommodations; undue hardship (“significant difficulty or expense”) 
    • Pandemic-related harassment due to national origin, race or other protected characteristics
    • Return to work: ADA-compliant screening of workers; accommodations for modified personal protective equipment (PPE)

Employers' legal obligations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Duty Clause obligates employers to prevent or minimize the risk to employees of death or serious physical harm in the workplace.