Mayor tightens COVID-19 rules

LIHU‘E — Mayor Derek Kawakami tightened pandemic emergency rules on Saturday, as the state reported a new single-day record of 73 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Kaua‘i did not report any new cases on Saturday, and there are currently no active cases of COVID-19 on the island, according to the state Department of Health and Kawakami’s administration. The new cases were reported on O‘ahu and Maui.

Kawakami reinstated limits on social gatherings on Saturday, however, in light of the recent statewide spike in virus cases.

Additionally, he amended rules relating to masks, and enacted emergency rule 14, which bans transient vacation rentals from being used as quarantine locations for new residents.

The new and amended emergency rules now mandate that all people over the age of 5 wear masks, or some form of cloth face covering, over their nose and mouth — whether indoors or outdoors — whenever they are with anyone not in their immediate household.

There are limited exceptions to this rule, such as while eating or drinking, entering a financial institution, interacting with someone who may rely on lip reading for communication, or when exercising outdoors if physical distancing of at least six feet can be maintained.

A person who is unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition or disability must have a written medical exemption provided by a medical doctor, advanced-practice registered nurse, or doctor of osteopathy. Medical exemptions should not specify the medical condition that precludes the wearing of face coverings.

Indoor gatherings are now limited to 10 people, “as several recent clusters have been tied to social events,” according to a Saturday news release from the Mayor’s Office.

The release further states: “The highest risk of disease transmission occurs while indoors, so indoor gatherings are now limited to a maximum of 10 people. If people must gather, they should do so outside. Outdoor gatherings remain at a maximum limit of 100 people. Mask-wearing, physical distancing and other CDC guidelines must be maintained during all gatherings. Emergency rule 13 applies to casual, social gatherings only, and does not apply to allowable businesses, operations or activities.”

Finally, transient vacation rentals can’t be designated as quarantine locations for new residents more than once in any six-month period. Emergency rule 14 addresses this loophole by stating that no transient vacation rental or homestay, as defined by the Kaua‘i County Code, may be used in this manner.

“Some transient visitors are stating that they are new residents in an attempt to avoid quarantining at a hotel, as currently required,” the release states.

“Irresponsible transient-vacation-rental operators are creating six-month leases, with separate agreements to break the leases early to accommodate transient visitors. Officials have noticed that multiple ‘new residents’ are producing long-term leases at the same address.”

The property owner, property manager, landlord, tenant and guest shall each be responsible for ensuring compliance with this rule.

Violation of the new rules could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and a year in jail, as it is with any person violating the governor’s or mayor’s emergency rules.


Jessica Else, editor, can be reached at 245-0457 or

  1. mayr July 26, 2020 7:24 am Reply

    Very confusing….article states Mask-wearing, physical distancing and other CDC guidelines must be maintained during all gatherings. Yet CDC is not advocating cloth masks…..Help!!

    1. Paradise Lost July 27, 2020 8:57 am Reply

      Mask wearing + social distancing + other CDC guidelines. It’s pretty simple, wear a mask and follow the rules!

  2. surferboy069 July 26, 2020 7:25 am Reply

    I applaud the Mayor’s action against vacation rental owners, property managers circumventing the rules by creating a fraudulent long term leases. Mayor Kawakami, forget about the fines as these owners are wealthy enough to be able to pay the fines. Jail sentences are always never meted out in these cases. How about revoking the Permits say for 5 years. If this is not deterrent enough then revoke the permits permanently.

    1. John stamos July 26, 2020 8:46 am Reply

      Are the police gonna put people in jail for not wearing a mask outside? Seems like maybe they are infringing on our rights that people are finally gonna say enough. Why would i need a mask in my own yard when no one has covid. This will probally be amended as it is way over the line. Major civil unrest may follow. Why exactly do i need a mask outside?

    2. Da Shadow July 26, 2020 12:52 pm Reply

      why so much hate toward vacation rentals??
      consider the many people they employ.

      try aloha, you’ll feel better.

  3. SimpleSolutions July 26, 2020 8:19 am Reply

    Zero cases on Kauai and the mayor once again oversteps his bounds….What happened to making decisions based on science? At this point the math still states zero times zero is still zero. If the mayor’s objective is to have zero cases on the island, then he needs to ban travel to Kauai. Oh wait, don’t want to give the mayor any ideas.

    When all is done, we will all laugh at the pathetic leadership of our mayor and the foolishness of his decisions during the pandemic.

  4. Rick July 26, 2020 8:21 am Reply

    He continues to tighten rules even though we have had no significant spread or death AT ALL. What a joke. What happens when we actually start getting cases? Buckle up.

  5. Anne Sayles July 26, 2020 11:26 am Reply

    In response to mayr’s post regarding cloth face masks. This from the CDC’s website.

    CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
    Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
    Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
    Cloth face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

    Go to for more information.

  6. Implications July 26, 2020 1:01 pm Reply

    I suppose this means that classrooms will have no more than 10 people in them including the teachers? Or is there a special exception when the state wants to save money?

  7. Jaybird July 29, 2020 11:17 am Reply

    Leaders need to find solutions to “live” with pandemics. America’s enemies are certainly developing new pathogens which may be unleashed before effective therapeutics and vaccines become available for Covid-19. Welcome to the world of biological warfare!

  8. Atienfire August 24, 2020 8:22 am Reply

    Dictating what doctor you can get an exemption from is DISCRIMINATORY and pretty sure just plain ILLEGAL. I find it hard to believe that all the council members agreed and not one was opposed to this ruling.

  9. Bodyboarder October 28, 2020 11:13 pm Reply

    I would love to see Maui government show the science or directives from CDC suggesting OUTDOOR mask usage WHEN social distancing is practiced. Maui has hardly any cases and it seems some of the strictest rules. Where is the science of ANY cases of outdoor transmission when social distancing is practiced? In fact, the CDC states that it is only in poorly ventilated areas where someone is expelling large volumes of air that transmission even happens indoors (aerosol) when social distancing is practiced. When politicians exceed clear scientific evidence, they weaken the respect of citizens to trust future laws to be in the best interest of citizens.

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