Senate President Ron Kouchi announced today that the Senate will take measures to implement “social distancing’ in accordance with the best practices recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All essential functions of the Hawai‘i State Senate will continue.
No one who works at the Hawai‘i State Capitol has reported showing any symptoms of COVID-19 at this time.
“As we continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation, the health and welfare of all of our Senate staff, their families, and those who do business at the Capitol continue to be our primary concern,” said Senate President Kouchi. “We are following guidance and information from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and state and city health officials with priorities to protect our employees and help mitigate the spread of the virus in our community.”
All scheduled floor presentations honoring members of the community have been postponed.
Upcoming Senate- and Legislature-sponsored events scheduled in conference rooms and the Capitol grounds will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they should continue or be postponed.
Legislators and staff have been asked to avoid physical greetings such as handshakes and hugs. Many offices have posted signs on office doors asking for the public’s cooperation with these practices.
Cleaning and sanitation of all rooms open to the public has increased.
Hand sanitizer dispensers are now be available in common areas on each floor of the Capitol.
While committee hearings remain open, the public will be urged to submit written testimony electronically and watch select hearings online to achieve “social distancing” and avoid spreading the virus.
The amount of seating in the conference rooms will be reduced to allow those who attend hearings in person to maintain a reasonable distance from each other and keep the total number of occupants to a minimum.
Televisions will be placed outside of hearing rooms and testifiers will be encouraged to remain outside until the bill they are interested in is up for consideration. The Senate will be implementing crowd control measures to ensure the orderly flow of testifiers in and out of the conference rooms during hearings. Signage will be posted on all conference room doors requesting the public's cooperation with these new procedures.
Live streaming of all Senate floor sessions and select committee hearings will be available on YouTube and Facebook Live to allow the public to monitor proceedings from their homes or offices.
In addition, the Senate President is working on guidance related to personnel issues that may arise from this rapidly evolving and unpredictable situation, including how to handle sick employees, leave policies, travel guidelines, telework, and other employment-related issues.