2 levels added to tier system

LIHU‘E — If the state hits a vaccination rate of 70%, Kaua‘i will lose its tier system and mandated restrictions, according to the county’s latest tier chart from Mayor Derek Kawakami.

The county got approval Tuesday from Gov. David Ige for an update to the tier chart that hinges on state vaccination rates, case counts and positivity rates.

While about 1.4 million dosages of COVID-19 vaccines have been dolled out, the state is just under 50% of residents being fully inoculated, Ige reported.

Kaua‘i’s Tier 5 would go into effect when 60% of state residents have been fully vaccinated, the county’s seven-day daily average case count is less than three and has a test positivity rate below 1%. Here, the maximum group size would rise to 25 indoor and 75 outdoor. For indoor businesses and activities, the county sets a 75% capacity.

For reference, Tier 4, where the county currently stands, has an indoor limit of 10 and a 25-person outdoor limit in social gatherings. For most activities and businesses, there is a 50% indoor capacity.

Tier 6, the last rung on the ladder, dissolves the chart system entirely.

Kaua‘i leads the state in vaccination rate, with 48% of the estimated 71,000 population fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Summary. This is about on par with the state’s rate of 49%, and the national rate of 50%.

State DOH Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said choosing the state’s vaccination rate over the county’s has to do with how “closely connected” the counties are.

“Our counties are so closely connected that from a public-health perspective, it makes the most sense to use the statewide vaccine average, particularly with the increase in inter-island travel,” Berreman said. “County by county differences in vaccination rates are decreasing, and we foresee this model being used by other counties to continue to loosen restrictions.”

The county has been in discussion with the state and neighboring officials on using vaccine rates as a metric to loosen restrictions, a county spokesperson said Tuesday.

“We know that vaccines are the quickest way for us to move forward,” Kawakami said in a press release.

“Our island took early, firm actions at the start of this pandemic, which helped us build a robust vaccine program.”

This is the third time Kawakami has asked to revise the tier chart the administration first requested back in October 2020.

State changes

Tuesday, Ige also amended the state’s mask mandate to allow all individuals to go maskless outside, whether vaccinated or not.

“However, we do strongly encourage that when they’re outside in large groups to continue to wear a mask,” Ige said.

“The mask mandate is not changing indoors.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that vaccinated individuals could stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. CDC guidance advised masking-up in crowded indoor settings and on public transportation.

Ige also announced that, beginning June 1, restrictions on ocean-sports competitions, including surfing, swimming and outrigger canoe paddling, will be lifted. State and county permits will be issued per health and safety codes, Ige said.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz had asked Ige to lift the rules to allow surf competitions and regattas earlier this month.

“Surfing and outrigger canoe paddling are so much more than sports. They are a part of our culture and a way of life. I look forward to seeing our kids out in the water competing in surf contests and regattas again,” Schatz said in a statement Tuesday.

Additionally, if vaccination rates continue to rise and case counts remain low, changes to the state’s Safe Travels program could come in June, Ige said.

“The next step would be a quarantine exception for trans-Pacific travelers vaccinated in Hawai‘i,” Ige said.


Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

  1. RGLadder37 May 26, 2021 12:53 am Reply

    This face mask then is here to stay for awhile. Just the numbers have been added to shift some things around. I agree. When ever i go to the store, it has become an almost automatic thing to grab my face mask and head to the store. Everyone is wearing them. Only just a few choose not to wear it. Likewise, the complexes have all been designated face mask territory. And I think now they have people in the UH baseball stadium watching games. Not that I care. And the restaurants are still following the rules. How is Joe Biden doing anyway as President? Like him or don’t. He just released another stimulus pack for people. I’m for Joe because I got several already. And another one coming also. Although I voted for Donald Trump, I think Joe Biden is doing a good job. Releasing another stimulus pack. I’m getting one.

    1. J.D. May 26, 2021 8:12 am Reply

      Price of steel up 145 percent
      lumber up 126 percent
      wheat up 25 percent
      food index up 25 percent
      cotton up 35 percent
      silver up 38 percent
      copper up 50 percent
      soybeans up 71 percent
      oil up 80 percent
      Taxes for years to come will go up to pay for the “free money” handed out.

      1. Paradise Lost May 27, 2021 8:58 am Reply

        Clearly we need our minimum wage to increase at least to match inflation! Otherwise the rich assholes are just siphoning away the money that rightfully belongs to their workers who are the ones that needed the free money in the first place!

        Government debt is very different than you paying your credit card. The general consensus among economists is that the total amount of debt doesn’t matter, as long as you get more in value from the debt than the value of the debt in the first place.

    2. Kali Yuga May 26, 2021 2:24 pm Reply

      Uhh… most everyone is wearing a face mask because it has been required. I wouldn’t call it law because the mayor and health “authorities” have abused their power, but in any case if you don’t wear a mask most stores will kick you out, even if you have a medical reason not to.

      As for the stimulus, that’s fake money and likely will be a major contributor to a crashed economy in the future, near or far.

  2. Coco May 26, 2021 6:21 am Reply

    “Kaua‘i leads the state in vaccination rate, with 48% of the estimated 71,000 population fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Summary. This is about on par with the state’s rate of 49%, and the national rate of 50%.”

    How does Kauai “lead the state” if its vaccination rate is 1% lower than the state rate?

    1. RGLadder37 May 26, 2021 4:49 pm Reply

      Good point. This 1% in difference is the offset from inter island travel. The state’s numbers are an average. Not limits. So the numbers reflect how many per capita are being vaccinated versus the state population.

    2. Paradise Lost May 27, 2021 9:00 am Reply

      I read in this paper just a couple weeks ago that Kaua’i was over 60% vaccinated. These percentages are confusing. Can you just list the total number of Kaua’i residents that have received doses, with a separate number for single-dose and fully vaccinated?

  3. Joe Maka May 26, 2021 7:00 am Reply

    Usually, the low number would be LEAST restrictive and escalate from there. And now, to add more confusion there are more tiers. But tier 6 doesn’t really exist because if we get to tier 6 there are no longer tiers.

    Just think, these people are the ones managing our county government. They cannot even come up with a clear system. The “leaders” had over a year to fix broken infrastructure. Much talk about diversification. Now, we are basically back to the single economy mess that we had pre Covid. It’s not the visitor’s fault either.

    1. Westside Resident May 26, 2021 8:47 am Reply

      They are not our leaders, they are our servants.

  4. Freedom May 26, 2021 7:34 am Reply

    This is not progress, this is just the state and government keeping control of people, other states are completely open and are doing fine, this island has become a dictatorship, they shouldn’t be able to control us like this, I’m tired of my tax dollars going to politicians so they csn tell me how to live my life, tis is unconstitutional and Ige and Kawaiare going far beyond their reach

    1. Paradise Lost May 27, 2021 9:02 am Reply

      Other states aren’t Hawaii. We are unique in the sheer number of tourists we get vs our total population.

      Other states have highways connecting their counties too! Don’t compare apples and oranges.

  5. Everythingisawesome May 26, 2021 5:25 pm Reply

    They used the term “par” so clearly comparing vaccination rates and tier levels is more akin to mini golf than bowling. Lowest score wins.

  6. Bekah May 27, 2021 12:49 pm Reply

    To much focus on the wrong things.

  7. KauaiRon May 28, 2021 12:02 pm Reply

    Such a childish waste of time … in an economy deficit that was man made.
    Ever heard of a virus that had a patent …
    This was designed to destroy our economy.
    I think it has been pretty effective.
    Let’s see how long we can keep this nonsense up …
    Florida has tourist … 86.714 million visitors
    Hawaii … 2.7 million visitors
    You missing something here.

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