LIHU‘E — In July, the state’s average seven-day COVID-19 infection count was in the 60s. This August, it’s in the 500s.
Tuesday, Gov. David Ige announced new statewide restrictions that limit social gatherings and put a 50% capacity on restaurants, bars, gyms and places of worship. The state will also enforce a limit on professional events.
Effective immediately, the state has reverted to a 10-person limit on social gatherings indoors and 25 people outdoors. This overrides current county rules that allowed 25 to gather indoors in a social setting, and 75 outdoors.
“I think the governor spelled it out pretty clear as to what the plan of attack is to intervene and slow the spread,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said during Tuesday’s press conference with Ige and neighbor island leaders.
With this uptick in cases on island, Kawakami said that residents have been seeking more help.
“Most people know what to do here on Kaua‘i. We have seen an uptick in people getting tested, so those are all a great indicator that people on their own know what to do,” Kawakami said. “Once again, we’re going to navigate through these challenging times.”
The county will defer to the statewide order on restaurants, bars and other social establishment gatherings, but its current tier system for other activities.
“For events/activities included in the governor’s new order, his rule supersedes the county’s tier chart (social gatherings, gyms, restaurants),” a county spokesperson said. “For events/activities not covered in the governor’s order, the tier chart stands.”
In social establishments, like restaurants and bars, patrons must remain seated with their party, have at least 6 feet of distance between groups, will not be allowed to mingle, and are required to wear a mask unless actively eating or drinking, according to the new order.
For “professionally organized” events like conventions, weddings and concerts, the state will require organizers to reach out to the county for guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“You will have to let us know about your event and we’ll have a set of guidelines for you folks to follow,” Kawakami said.
Kawakami said that a Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency representative will be able to answer questions.
“What we’ve been seeing from organized events are very-well-run events that have been safe, so most people already know what to do,” Kawakami said.
Ige said the bulk of hospitalized cases have been in those who are unvaccinated. Earlier Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said that 235 of the 246 COVID patients in hospitals are unvaccinated.
Green also reported that 50% of COVID hospitalizations are in those under 50 years old.
The state, however, will not be making any changes in travel restrictions.
“We are evaluating the Safe Travels program but we know that the number of cases from visitors is relatively low at 1% to 2%,” Ige said.
Travel-related cases are about 15 % to 20% in residents.
“The delta variant has truly changed the COVID-19 pandemic here in the islands. We have seen increased transmission, and we must take action in order so our health system is not overwhelmed,” Ige said.
These rules are just an addition to last week’s emergency order that stated that county and state employees have until Aug. 16 to provide proof of vaccination or face weekly COVID-19 tests at their own cost.
“The state and county workers are very much a part of this operation to flatten the curve as well,” Kawakami said. “That is why for Kaua‘i County it has been explained to our associates there are two big waves you can contribute on your end. One is to either decide to get vaccinated if you haven’t, or (two) undergo regular testing.”
Kawakami refuted the claim that this rule is a “mandate.”
“You do have a choice. It’s not a mandate,” Kawakami said. “You have to do your part.”