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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Brokers can and should enforce existing Executive Orders with their independent contractor agents. Brokers and agents should be familiar with the details of the order, including whether real estate services are deemed essential services and how the order impacts the permissibility of continuing to conduct in-person real estate-related activities.

Yes. Financial institutions can consider alternative service options to provide access to financial services. Financial institutions may want to remind customers of the various ways they can access banking services without physically coming to a facility, such as managing their accounts online, performing transactions at an automated teller machine (ATM), using telephone banking, or accessing a mobile banking application. Financial institutions could also provide information about how to use electronic payments, bill pay, and mobile remote deposit capture services.

Providing regularly updated information about the operating status of the bank, branch offices, remote access facilities, and mobile and online services as pandemic conditions evolve could be helpful to customers. Posting this information on the institution’s website, providing recorded information on its customer support lines, and pushing notifications out to customers that have signed up for alerts are just some of the ways institutions could help customers.

No. As a general matter, a bank is under no legal duty to cash a check, even one drawn on the bank by an account holder. However, the FDIC and other bank regulatory agencies have issued statements encouraging institutions to work with consumers and communities affected by COVID-19 developments. The FDIC recognizes that such efforts serve the long-term interests of communities and the financial system when conducted with appropriate management oversight and are consistent with safe and sound banking practices and applicable laws, including consumer protection laws. These efforts may include easing restrictions on cashing non-customer checks. For example, some banks have voluntarily decided to cash non-customer’s economic impact checks without charging a fee.

For more information on assisting consumers in light of COVID-19 developments, see the FDIC’s Statement on Financial Institutions Working with Customers Affected by the Coronavirus and Regulatory and Supervisory Assistance (FIL-17-2020), issued on March 13, 2020.

Yes, in place of traditional in-person classroom instruction, teachers are utilizing an instructional enrichment approach that will continue to engage students in a modified approach to learning until school buildings can reopen. This enrichment will involve a mixed methodology approach, such as independent projects, study packets, distance learning, and e-conferencing, with an increased utilization of technology to the extent possible. The Hawai’i Department of Education recognizes that some students will need opportunities beyond enrichment to meet graduation or promotion requirements, and guidance has been shared for providing such accommodations.

For organizations that are interested in operating emergency child care services for essential workers and are not already licensed by DHS to operate a group child care facility, they may submit an inquiry at [email protected] and provide information for DHS to determine whether the program will need to be licensed by DHS.

When considering whether to hold an open hours, realtors should consult with their brokers, and consider how federal, state and local authorities’ current recommendations and actions, such as “shelter in place” mandates, impact the advisability, and even permissibility of open houses.

Where open houses are permissible, The National Association of Realtors (NAR) strongly encourages members to consider the advisability of continuing to hold open houses at this time, especially in light of the guidance and actions of federal, state and local authorities, including “The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America” recommending that gatherings of ten or more persons be avoided.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), in consultation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as well as the DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued guidance to provide additional flexibility to operators and staff to help ensure continued operations. Operators for transportation including hazardous liquid and gas pipeline, underground natural gas storage, liquefied natural gas, and bulk electric systems are focusing their resources on keeping people safe and providing critical services during this unprecedented public health emergency. Additional guidance: PHMSA Stay of EnforcementGuidance for State Partners, and the NERC and FERC Industry Guidance to Ensure Grid Reliability.

NERC issued a special report Pandemic Preparedness and Operational Assessment assessing the reliability considerations and operational preparedness of the bulk power system owners and operators during pandemic conditions in April and May 2020. NERC included spring, summer and longer-term risks, but did not identify any specific threats or degradation to the reliable operation of the bulk power supply at this time.

Protective measures for access to homes and businesses in restricted areas should follow CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance:

OSHA released guidance for workers performing in-home repairs services.
Non-essential work orders at customer homes or businesses that require workers to enter may be deferred or postponed when possible to preserve PPE for essential emergency work and to protect the health and safety of personnel.

Hawaiian Electric has conducted business continuity exercises that helped them plan day-to-day operations in a pandemic. They’re working closely with federal, state and county emergency response agencies and we’ve taken steps to keep our employees healthy and on the job and to keep customers safe. Many employees are working from home and they have temporarily closed our walk-in service centers until March 30. But they are still available on the phone and online for services like stopping/starting electric service and billing questions. Hawaiian Electric crews are still working to keep our grid strong and reliable, and they’re available to respond to outages.

For more information, see the Hawaiian Electric website.

You are never required to put yourself at risk in servicing a client. Have an open and honest conversation with your client about your concerns with holding an open house at this time, including whether doing so would contradict current government recommendations or mandates, particularly in geographic areas with “shelter in place” mandates. If after discussing these issues, you and your client mutually agree to hold an open house, advise your client about necessary precautions to minimize exposure to, and the spread of, COVID-19.

USDA intends to use all available program flexibilities and contingencies to serve our program participants across our 15 nutrition programs. We have already begun to issue waivers to ease program operations and protect the health of participants. See the FNS website for more information.

What is the State of Hawai’i doing to ensure residents can stay connected during COVID-19?

Hawaiʻi’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is offering a COVID-19 crisis waiver for those who have recently become eligible for subsidized low-cost internet service due to the pandemic. Coverage of these waivers includes the Lifeline program, which provides federally subsidized access to voice and broadband services for low-income households that qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid, or by showing that their household income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.

To make it easier for those who have lost their employment during the pandemic and who qualify for Lifeline benefits to enroll in the Lifeline program, the FCC has waived the requirement that consumers seeking to demonstrate income-based qualification for the Lifeline program must provide at least three consecutive months of documentation to confirm their income.

For more information, see the DCCA website.

As the decision of an agency head to return to normal operations depends heavily on consultation with and guidance from local health officials, we expect such conflicts to be infrequent. However, OPM, in consultation with the Department of Justice, has determined that none of the orders issued to date restrict the ability of Federal employees and contractors from any travel necessary to perform official functions.  OPM recommends that Federal agencies continue to follow staffing plans that have been adopted consistent with previous COVID-19 guidance issued by OMB and OPM.

Federal employees and contractors should continue to carry appropriate Federal identification (such as a CAC or PIV card, or agency-issued letter of authorization) when traveling to carry out Federal business and report to appropriate supervisors if there has been a travel issue with local law enforcement.

On March 3, the EPA released a list of registered disinfectant products that have qualified under its emerging viral pathogen program for use again SARS-CoV-2. You can find the list on the EPA website.

You should switch to and use disinfectant products that have been pre-approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use against emerging viral pathogens. Disinfectants should be applied during routine cleaning of guestrooms, public spaces, health club areas and meeting rooms. The current list of disinfectants with EPA pre-approval is available on the EPA website.

Due to COVID-19, the Hawaiʻi Real Estate Branch office will be temporarily closed from the end of the workday on Thursday, March 19th and is scheduled to reopen on Friday, May 1st, barring unforeseen circumstances.
Find more information on the CCA website.

Yes. The FDIC encourages financial institutions to provide borrowers affected in a variety of ways by the COVID-19 outbreak with payment accommodations that facilitate their ability to work through the immediate impact of the virus. Such assistance provided in a prudent manner to borrowers facing short-term setbacks could help the borrower and a community to recover. The FDIC understands that effective loan accommodation programs may involve protracted resolutions, but all should be ultimately targeted toward loan repayment.

Financial institutions may want to consider addressing any deferred or skipped payments by either extending the original maturity date or by making those payments due in a balloon payment at the maturity date of the loan. When deferring or skipping payments, providing borrowers with accurate disclosures that are consistent with federal and state consumer
protection laws will help to avoid any misunderstandings relative to the changes in the terms. Financial institutions can call their FDIC Regional Office, which can assist them by discussing key considerations and regulations on payment accommodations and disclosures.