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Mayor Derek Kawakami has also proposed modifications to the outdated tier system to be approved by Gov.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.