LIHU‘E — Mayor Derek Kawakami is urging residents to wear masks as the state makes its long-awaited reopening to trans-Pacific travelers.
“We know it’s easy to let our guard down when we’re around family and close friends, but these are the times when wearing our masks and practicing distancing is most important,” Kawakami said Wednesday. “Remember, we are putting our loved ones at risk any time we remain in close contact with others.”
He acknowledged the “anxiety surrounding the reopening of travel.”
“We have enjoyed many months of low or no cases here on Kaua‘i and it is inevitable that with more people on island, our cases will rise,” he said. “While we will continue to push for increased testing to help us identify new cases early, we know that testing is not a ‘silver bullet’ solution to protect us from COVID-19.”
Travelers into the county, from out of state or a neighbor island, may avoid a 14-day quarantine with proof of a negative COVID-19 test as registered through the state’s Safe Travels Digital Platform and tested by one of now 17 state-approved entities including airlines and health care agencies.
Those who are subject to the quarantine will be provided with a Kaua‘i Arrival Form upon entering that will be used by the Kaua‘i Police Department and the Hawai‘i National Guard for quarantine compliance checks.
The Mayor’s Emergency Rule 19, or the 4-tier system, dictates when businesses and activities are allowed to operate, and in what capacity, supersedes past rules.
With zero active cases, the county starts out on Tier 4, which is marked by a less than 1% positivity rate. The 72-hour, pre-travel test program allowed. Tier 3, begins to limit indoor and outdoor gatherings when the county sees a one-week average of two to four cases.
By Tier 2, which is met at a one-week average of daily COVID-19 cases between five to eight, the county opts out of the pre-travel testing program the two-week quarantine will be required for all travelers.
Tier 1 goes into effect when there’s a one-week average of eight or more cases per day reported on the island. No pre-testing quarantine exemptions will be allowed. Here, retail and faith-based services will drop to 25% capacity; restaurants may only operate with outdoor seating and take out; and gyms will be closed, among other restrictions.
For the county to lax the rules, it must be on the current tier for at least four consecutive weeks; meet case count criteria for the next tier for two weeks; and also meet the test positive rate criteria for the next tier for two consecutive weeks, according to the county.
For the jump to the next most restrictive tier, the county must exceed one or both criteria in the current tier for two weeks. The county reserves the right to implement additional restrictions not outlined currently in shorter timeframes than two weeks, if the health care system becomes overwhelmed.
Within this rule is also a requirement for wearing face masks, stating that those over 5 years old must wear masks within 6 feet of non-household members.
The rule makes “limited exceptions” to those issued exemptions from a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, advanced nurse practitioner, or a physician assistant.
The county’s proposal for a mandatory post-arrival test to bypass the quarantine was denied by Gov. David Ige last week. However, the county was given the green-light for a voluntary second test to be taken three after arrival. With visitor industry partners and the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce, the county is working on an incentive program, which a county spokesperson said will hopefully generate the local economy.
KPD is currently monitoring about 2,000 people currently in quarantine, the majority being returning Kaua‘i residents. Any travelers who arrived prior to today must remain in the two-week quarantine with no test-out option.
Modified quarantines for critical infrastructure employees are still available, Kawakami said.
DOH: 10 deaths; 101 new cases
The Hawai‘i Department of Health reported 10 COVID-19 related deaths and 101 new positive cases across the state yesterday. The deaths (three on Hawai‘i Island, two on O‘ahu and five on Maui) occurred between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30. The state’s death toll stands at 183.
This includes one new case on Maui, 18 on Big Island, 81 on O‘ahu, and one Hawai‘i resident diagnosed outside the state.
Since February, the state has seen a cumulative total of 13,674 cases statewide; two cases were removed yesterday due to updated laboratory information.
The state is making strides toward opening-up travel from Japan.
Yesterday, the DOH approved a COVID-19 test by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.
DOH is negotiating with Japanese medical institutions to establish a list of trusted testing partners in Japan, according to a press release.
The program would be similar to the program established with trans-Pacific Mainland travel.
Japanese nationals traveling abroad are still subject to a 14-day quarantine upon their return.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Japan due to COVID-19, with concern in Tokyo. The U.S. Department of State recommends U.S. travelers “reconsider travel” to Japan.