LIHU‘E — Mayor Derek Kawakami has proposed a four-tiered system outlining when businesses and activities can be operational based on coronavirus case counts, including a point at which Kaua‘i would opt out of the state’s pre-travel test program that begins next week.
The mayor’s emergency rule 19 proposal was sent to Gov. David Ige Thursday. The governor can approve or deny the order.
“In light of Kaua‘i’s post-arrival testing program being denied by the governor earlier this week, we have continued to work with our health officials and other partners to take a phased, responsible approach to reopening our economy while keeping our island safe,” Kawakami said.
Rule 18, which would have required both inter-island and trans-Pacific travelers to take a second COVID-19 test upon arrival on Kaua‘i, was denied on Monday.
The tier system begins with Tier 4 being the most lax and Tier 1 as the most restrictive. Social distancing and masks are required at all stages.
Tier 4 is designated by less than two daily active cases, where the county currently stands. Allowed on this level are nearly all businesses and activities with minimal restrictions. On this tier, the 72-hour, pre-travel test program is in effect for all visitors.
Tier 3 would be in effect when an average of two to four daily COVID-19 cases happens, the press release states. Trans-Pacific travelers can still test out of the quarantine, but restrictions on gatherings would go into effect.
At Tier 2, the county will opt out of the pre-travel testing program, and the two-week quarantine will be required for all travelers. This will be triggered when the county reaches an average of five to eight cases a day in a week.
The most restrictive step, Tier 1, would go into effect when there’s a one-week average of eight or more cases per day registered on the island. “No pre-testing quarantine exemptions will be allowed,” the press release states.
“More information on mayor’s proposed emergency rule 19, including detailed metrics for the proposed tier system, will be publicized upon approval,” a county spokesperson said Thursday evening.
The tier system is similar to one in place on O‘ahu already.
Kawakami acknowledged community concerns as the state moves toward a Thursday, Oct. 15 reopening, allowing trans-Pacific travelers to bypass a two-week quarantine period with proof of a negative Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) COVID-19 test from a state-partnered authority.
“Many have requested my response to the governor’s offer for counties to ‘opt out’ of the state’s pre-travel testing program,” Kawakami said.
“It has never been our intention to opt out of the state’s program, but rather to supplement the program in a way that meets our county’s unique needs. We maintain that a pre- and post-arrival testing program is the safest option for our residents and visitors, and we will continue to work with the state to achieve that goal.”
On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the state would be implementing a random surveillance testing program that would select 10% of daily travelers to voluntarily take a post-travel test.
“By opting in to the state’s pre-travel test plan, the county is also opting in to Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s recently-announced surveillance program, which will offer an additional layer of testing here on island,” Kawakami said.
In preparation for its own post-travel test program that was denied, the county purchased 15,000 rapid, same-day COVID-19 tests using $1 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds for the tests.
The county currently has zero active cases.
“Kaua‘i continues to work with our private-industry partners to help promote a voluntary, post-arrival testing program here on Kaua‘i,” Kawakami said. “We will announce more on that campaign in the coming days.”
2 new coronavirus-related deaths, 101 new infections
State Department of Health officials said Thursday that the state has recorded two additional coronavirus-related deaths and 101 new infections statewide, bringing the totals since the start of the pandemic to 165 deaths and 13,146 cases.
Thursday’s new infection cases include 86 on O‘ahu, 14 on Hawai‘i Island and one on Maui.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll was over 212,000 Thursday.