Proposing tier change

LIHU‘E — Beginning Thursday, the county will move into Tier 3, implementing more rules as the county’s COVID-19 infection rate goes up, primarily linked to community spread.

Mayor Derek Kawakami has also proposed modifications to the outdated tier system to be approved by Gov. David Ige that would establish the county’s social-gathering limit to five 5 indoors and 25 outdoors, and allow team sports at this stage.

“When we created the tier chart last year, we were facing the reality that any rise in case counts put our most-vulnerable population at risk,” Kawakami said in a statement.

The modified tier system would limit restaurants and bars to 50% indoor capacity, with a six-person maximum group indoors and 25 outdoors at Tier 3.

Without Ige’s approval, at Tier 3 the county would put restrictions on gatherings, primarily disallowing sporting events and making the maximum group to gather at 10 people, both indoor and out, at informal meetings.

“It’s also important that the tier restrictions reflect where we are seeing transmission,” Kawakami said. “Therefore, we are revising our tier chart to allow outdoor activities such as sports, while further limiting indoor group sizes. If you must gather with people outside of your home, stay outdoors and wear your mask.”

Kawakami proposed the tier system last October, following a similar program used on O‘ahu.

The tier system is broken up into four stages, with the least-restrictive being Tier 4, and the most-restrictive being Tier 1. Social-distancing and masks on those ages 5 and older are required at all stages.

Allowed on the current Tier 4 are nearly all businesses and activities with minimal restrictions. Outdoor activities can continue with a crowd of less than 25, and indoor gatherings restricted to 10. This stage is designated by less than two daily active cases and a test positivity rate less than 1%.

Tier 3 would be in effect when an average of two to four daily COVID-19 cases. Here, restrictions on gatherings go into effect, primarily shutting off sporting events and making the maximum group to gather at 10 people, both indoor and out, at informal meetings.

Tuesday, the state’s Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office reported six new COVID-19 infections. All cases were reported in adults, with three considered community-spread.

One adult case was related to inter-island travel, and had received his or her test result after arriving on Kaua‘i.

Another case was related to mainland travel, and the other international travel. Both of these cases were in adult visitors.

The county reported 395 close contacts under DOH quarantine.

These six cases bring the county’s active case count to 73, with 332 cumulative cases reported on the island. There are no hospitalized cases, but 65 are quarantined at home and eight in a facility, according to the county.

Over the last week, the county has seen an upward trend in community-acquired infections and positive cases in children, who are currently unable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of May 2, the county’s test positive rate is 2.6% with a seven-day average of 7.7 new cases. And between April 19 to May 2, the county’s test positivity rate is up 1183%, according to the DOH.

If the spike continues, at Tier 2, according to the county’s modified guidelines, 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. From this stage on, indoor social gatherings max out at five people and would be limited to 15 outdoor. With permits, professionally organized receptions could continue with restrictions.

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. Those with pre-travel testing would not be able to bypass the state’s mandatory quarantine. At this stage, gyms close, markets are only allowed to operate outdoors, and restaurants must go to take-out or outdoor dining only.


Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or

  1. Da Shadow May 5, 2021 3:19 am Reply

    over a year to bolster our medical response/hospital capacity, but nothing was done?
    And the vaccines… we have ALL had the opportunity to get vaccinated.
    this is like buying a car but not wearing the seatbelt that’s provided.
    time to move on.

  2. alien May 5, 2021 7:02 am Reply

    Now this is ridiculous. Politics at its worst. So non vaccinated people can gather in bigger groups if they are playing sports???? Yet vaccinated people are immitted on how many other vaccinated they can gather with???? Science obviously means nothing to King Covidiot just a arrogant fool.

  3. Jay Franklin May 5, 2021 7:02 am Reply

    Now that the Co-Vid vaccine is freely available it has become a matter of choice on whether to receive it You can choose not to take it, but why restrict movements and business to benefit the people who choose not to take it? Perhaps go down a tier level or two and give people a few weeks to get vaccinated and then open everything up completely. After that the consequences of your free choice is in your hands.

    1. Enrique May 5, 2021 1:06 pm Reply

      Seychelles is the most vaccinated country on Earth. And they are in full lockdown. Vaccines don’t work even Dr Fauci (who is a fool) stated in congressional testimony that vaccines don’t stop you from getting Covid or transmitting it. Eat healthy and live your life. We will all die one day. It’s only a bummer if you haven’t surrendered your life to Jesus. Only the secular world is in fear of death.

      1. Nothatserious May 5, 2021 5:11 pm Reply

        Vaccinated with the Chinese made vaccine, an important piece of information not included in your post.

  4. Kauai Ken May 5, 2021 7:17 am Reply

    Since the entire reason for the progressively costly tiers is to protect against serious health impacts and deaths, why should case counts or positivity rates be used at all? Isn’t the only relevant measures be what percentage of the “at-risk population” have their vaccines, and how many people are hospitalized on Kauai for COVID-19? Using case counts and positive test rates is trafficking in scare tactics and pandering to those who refuse to be vaccinated. We shouldn’t implement draconian measures based on counts of people with moderate (or no) temporary symptoms. How many people are currently in a Kauai hospital for COVID-19? What is the mayor doing to accelerate vaccines and persuade the recalcitrant members of our community?

  5. RG Desoto May 5, 2021 7:45 am Reply

    Here come the tyrants…dictating how many people we can have in our homes or outdoors? Well, to be vulgar, they can go hose themselves. They have NO authority to do this and we should all ignore there tyrannical, unconstitutional usurpation.
    No matter what illegitimate, authoritarian actions they take, SARS Cov-2 is here and it will not be deterred. Shutting down the island simply postponed its inevitable spread. Get over it and accept that well over 99% of people will easily survive an infection…many will be asymptomatic and never even know they were infected. The hospitals are not and will not be overrun.
    By shuttering the island, King Kawakami ensured that immunity was severely stunted and guaranteed that when he decided to cut our bonds, the virus would quickly spread. What an ignorant fool to think he had the power to alter the inevitable course of ALL viruses.
    Freedom loving people should ignore the tyrannical, power aggrandizing garbage of all politicians and their cowardly subjects.
    RG DeSoto

    1. Maggie La Ragy May 5, 2021 8:34 am Reply


    2. You're #1 May 5, 2021 10:32 am Reply

      Please be first in line to contract your share of this virus.

      1. RG DeSoto May 5, 2021 3:04 pm Reply

        Well #1, what an inane (ignorant too, I might add…viruses aren’t dolled out as a “share”) response….but surely representative of a mid-level double digit IQ incapable of rational discourse.
        RG DeSoto

        1. Maybe later May 5, 2021 9:29 pm Reply

          Bah. Work on it a little more.

  6. Kali Yuga May 5, 2021 8:18 am Reply

    So here we are in Kauai with impending lockdown while states like Texas, Florida and now many others are nearly completely back to normal and have moved on from this coronacircus.

    1. Guy May 5, 2021 9:30 pm Reply

      I’m sure no other Texans or Floridians will die from this, either, right?

  7. KauaiFarmMan May 5, 2021 8:28 am Reply

    What a joke! It’s been over a year of this crap. If you’re scared go get a “vaccine”. How about the rest of us can live in a normal world without the dictatorship restricting our life. Who is really paying our mayor? This is medical tyranny. FREEDOM

  8. Da watcher May 5, 2021 8:28 am Reply

    Ok here we go Mr Mayor stop listening to your over paid team in the EOC Team Kanoho calling the shots? Or some other donkey look around what the rest of Hawaii and the mainland are doing , Your EOC team is a money sucking JOKE getum OUT !!

  9. Maggie La Ragy May 5, 2021 8:30 am Reply

    @GovHawaii Please stop Kawakami making up his own rules – he is bankrupting Kaua’i. Don’t allow him to use fear of a virus that infects/kills less than 5% of the population to control our lives. His arbitrary changes destroy hope in our community and confidence in the visitors upon whom our already decimated livelihoods depend. His threats are not based on Medical Science. They are rooted in Political Science. Tell him NO!

  10. Sam May 5, 2021 8:36 am Reply

    So what about all the false positives? Do we keep those counted as covid cases to advance this agenda or do you retract them?

  11. Jamie Rainbow May 5, 2021 9:05 am Reply

    In these new guidelines I hear nothing about vaccinated people vs anti vaxxers, Mr Mayor, please consider a CDC vaccination card as proof of vaccination and an adjunct to mandatory quarantine and an avenue to remain in the safe travels program. Add a Covid fee of $10 dollars a person to cover the cost of enforcement. Also put a mandatory 1 month in jail and a $5000 fine for anyone caught trying forge a card and randomly pull five people from each flight and verify the integrity of their Vax card. Me and my family have worked really hard to be all fully vaccinated before we planned our trip to Kauai and now two weeks before our trip starts, well you know the rest of the story. We want the people of Kauai to be safe and happy.

  12. Notthatserious May 5, 2021 9:20 am Reply

    Didn’t most of the spread happen at the 2 Lihue Bars? Why don’t you just make the bars move service outdoors? Both have big parking lots, put up tents and rope off an area with a couple security guards to keep watch so people don’t take drinks outside the area. The situation would be similar to a beer garden at a concert, it’s not that hard. It’s not like these bars provide some type of special ambiance at all, it’s just regulars looking for a place to meet up play darts, talk story, and drink.

  13. Emperor May 5, 2021 9:21 am Reply

    The Kauai Emperor has spoken with Sushi in his mouth.

    All his words are raw and uncooked information.

    Kauai has turned into Kawakami’s Zoo.

  14. andrew May 5, 2021 11:30 am Reply

    I too am concerned by the rise in cases on Kauai. The people of Kauai have been offered protection from the virus in the form of a vaccine. IF they choose not to get it and get sick, that was their choice. Please do not penalize the rest of us for those choices. Please people, get vaccinated. If you are crying about the amount of COVID cases on Kauai and are not vaccinated yourself, I cannot hear you.

  15. No where to hide May 5, 2021 12:25 pm Reply

    I watched a recent video where our mayor tried to deflect responsibility by saying we, when talking about decisions. There is no we Mr Mayor. You own this since you asked for and took emergency powers to bypass the normal legislative process. The people getting sick after opening is on you. The kids being developmentally delayed because of the requirement to mask is you. The huge unemployment is you. Be a leader and take responsibility.

  16. Westside Resident May 5, 2021 12:57 pm Reply

    Many of us have said from the beginning that the virus will arrive once we open again to tourists. Then we asked how long we intended to stay closed, and at what cost?

    We asked if Covid was deadly enough to justify a prolonged shutdown? We asked if we couldn’t protect the most vulnerable, allowing the rest of us the opportunity to have some normalcy and enjoy our liberties?

    The answer was always a SHOUT back…’ we’ll shut down until the vaccines come along!’.

    Well….the vaccines are here. But we are still in panic mode. Why? Because the vaccines don’t work?

    When will we acknowledge the lies we’ve been told? When can we get smart?

    Why don’t we promote the treatments? Why don’t we have more ICUs? Where did the money go? Why are the children still not back in school full time? How long are we to subjected to tiers?

  17. Wil Dargan May 5, 2021 2:06 pm Reply

    The mayor is doing the best with what resources he has. He care, he loves, and is concerned for the people of Kauai. As a leader sometimes you have to make tough decisions and do what is right for ALL. As General Powell said: “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” Mayor Derek Kawakami keep up the good work. The “real” community knows where your heart (Keiki, Kūpuna) is! Aloha!

    1. No where to hide May 5, 2021 3:54 pm Reply

      I’m sure he is doing the best he can. If he is going to be a leader he can’t hide behind “we”. He has to accept all responsibility good and bad and not hide behind we when He makes a rule by proclamation.

  18. Mark May 5, 2021 9:30 pm Reply

    I’m going to chime in with support for the Mayor. I don’t agree with all the decisions being made, but I recognize that balancing different competing objectives, at times with imperfect information and no crystal ball, is difficult. And sometimes mistakes are made. But I think the Mayor and his team have been exemplary in trying to incorporate facts and medicine into their decision making. He’s done a better job than most politicians in this regard. And if anyone says he isn’t interested in support the economy clearly isn’t assessing all the facts.

    Some of the comments here overlook the fact that not everyone on Kauai is even eligible for vaccine, including children. Others just seem to come from self-absorbed, selfish and even hateful people. I even wonder if those folks even live on Kauai.

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