KAPA‘A — Governor David Ige Thursday approved Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami’s updated Business &Recreation Guidelines tier chart, and the county’s move to a newly-modified Tier 3.
And restaurant owners on Kaua‘i expressed mixed feelings about the move.
The more-cautious tier was activated after the island’s average case count remained elevated for the past two weeks. It reduces the indoor gathering limit to five while allowing groups of 25 outdoors.
The modified rules for Tier 3 allow team sports to continue with COVID-safe protocols in place. This is the first time Kaua‘i has moved tiers since the guidelines were approved in October 2020.
In a Thursday release, Kawakami thanked Ige for supporting Kaua‘i’s COVID response.
“If we continue to work together, make safe choices and get vaccinated, we look forward to moving back to Tier 4 as soon as possible,” Kawakami said.
Troy Trujillo, who owns Olympic Cafe restaurant in Kapa‘a, said he doesn’t see the point in taking extra precautions, because he’s watched other restaurant owners dealing with the repercussions of the virus in their establishments.
One of those friends is Rob Silverman, owner of Rob’s Good Times Grill in Lihu‘e, which was one of two restaurants identified in a cluster of cases on Kaua‘i that sprang up between April 16 and April 29.
Trujillo said Rob “did everything right” and still had to close down due to a positive case of COVID-19.
“I’m not saying let everyone get sick. I’m saying, what’s the point (of moving to a different tier)?” Trujillo asked.
Trujillo said moving to Tier 3 will be inconvenient for his business and his customers, pointing out that it’s difficult to run a busy restaurant and continue to inform customers of continuously-changing rules.
“It’s hard to explain to somebody ‘you can’t sit there because the government says so’ while you’re busy,” Trujillo said. “People don’t get it. I go on vacation. I’m not gonna wait four hours for a table. The whole thing is just stupid.”
Jim Guerber at the Kaua‘i Beer Company said his company completely understands the necessity to move to the revised Tier 3 rules.
“The health and safety of everyone on Kaua‘i is something we have always cared about, especially during this stressful time,” Guerber said. “We can easily adjust to seating no more than five people together.
“Frankly, the larger groups have tended to be visitors, and they have been very cooperative with us. We have just reopened additional outdoor seating, which is perfectly timed with the implementation of Tier 3 guidelines. Throughout this past year, our staff has been very safety-conscious, and that will continue.”
A spokesperson from Passion Bakery said they pretty much operate at Tier 3 level now. So it won’t affect them as long as they don’t close down completely.
Each county has its own tier guidelines, and this announcement applies only to Kaua‘i.
County of Kaua‘i also announced changes to inter-island travel procedures on Thursday as well, changes that will go into effect on Tuesday, May 11. Starting on that date, Hawai‘i residents who have been fully vaccinated in Hawai‘i will be able to travel interisland and be exempt from the travel quarantine without needing a pre-travel test.
Those traveling inter-island after May 11 may upload a photo of their vaccine card or VAMS verification onto their Safe Travels profile for proof of vaccination.
Pre-travel tests will still be required for those who have not been vaccinated in the state, or those traveling trans-Pacific, to exempt from travel quarantine.
Thursday, Kawakami directed the public to the county’s free COVID-19 testing program, saying: “We recognize that even if you have been vaccinated, there is a small risk of infection,” and encouraging people to take advantage of testing.
Thursday, the county announced 62,000 vaccinations have been administered on Kaua‘i.
Stephanie Shinno, education and business reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.