HONOLULU — Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Thursday he would reinstate a requirement that people traveling between the islands quarantine themselves for 14 days, while making an exception for people arriving on Oahu from the other counties as the number of COVID-19 cases in the state grows exponentially.
The interisland quarantine rule that ended June 16 will be partially reinstated on Tuesday, Ige said. People arriving on Oahu from the other islands won’t need to quarantine, but travelers arriving in the other counties from other islands will.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he would close public parks, pools and campgrounds. The city and its suburbs on Oahu have had the bulk of the sate’s cases. State parks on Oahu will also be closed.
Ige and Caldwell said their objective was to crack down on large, uncontrolled gatherings of people that have greater potential to spread the disease.
Ige issued a statewide stay-at-home order in March as the pandemic reached Hawaii. For a time the state had the lowest number of cases in the nation per capita. But as restrictions were relaxed, the virus began spreading more, especially on Oahu.
Ige said it’s been disappointing to see people let their guard down.
“I hate it when I see people not wearing masks, gathering in public places at the beach or in the parks, partying with no regard for the health and safety of our community,” Ige said.
The Honolulu Police Department will be assigning 160 officers to enforce the rules. They will be working on overtime, and their pay will be covered by federal coronavirus relief money, Police Chief Susan Ballard said.
Ballard said officers would be giving few warnings but issuing citations and making arrests.
Bruce Anderson, the director of the state Department of Health, said cases in Hawaii were increasing 130% a day. Newly confirmed cases reported Thursday would exceed 200, he said, though he didn’t have a final number because private labs were delayed in reporting their results.
Computer models predict the state’s intensive care unit beds will be fully occupied by Aug. 19 or 21, Anderson said.
“The current situation is actually much more serious than we projected when we anticipated increases as the state reopened,” Anderson said.
The governor said he plans to announce within the next week what he will do about his existing plan to allow travelers arriving from out of state to bypass a 14-day quarantine requirement by testing negative for COVID-19. This was due to take effect on Sept. 1.
Many in the state had been looking forward to the pre-travel testing program as a way to restart tourism, the state’s biggest industry.
Ige aid he would also soon announce plans for schools and universities. Hawaii public schools are currently scheduled to resume on Aug. 17, with some planning to offer remote instruction, some preparing to give in-person classes and others setting up for a hybrid of the two approaches.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
This story has been corrected based on updated information from the governor’s office to show the interisland travel rule will be partial.