LIHU‘E — The next step in tackling surging COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations will be increased enforcement and not tighter restrictions, Gov. David Ige and Mayor Derek Kawakami came together to say Friday at a press conference with fellow neighbor island mayors and law enforcement.
Ige said that the state’s approach to managing the current surge in COVID-19 cases would be “coordinated independent action” from individual counties.
As part of this effort, Kawakami issued a new emergency rule establishing fines of $250 for individuals and $500 for businesses and organizers for noncompliance with state COVID safety rules.
Kaua‘i Police Department officers, county Department of Liquor Control investigators and county Department of Parks &Recreation rangers all have the authority to enforce this rule.
This includes write-ups for improper mask usage, social gathering in groups larger than 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, and breaking restaurant and bar capacities.
Ige acknowledged that hospitals are strained, but rejected calls for tighter statewide mandates.
“The current spike in COVID-19 has put tremendous stress on our hospitals,” Ige said. “Certainly we’ve talked about further restrictions. The stay-at-home order would require closing all non-essential businesses all across the state. There is significant concern about the economic impact that a stay-at-home order would have.”
Kawakami is also resistant to implement new restrictions.
“We don’t have any additional restrictions because at this point in time we cannot fool ourselves to say that COVID-19 is going to go away,” Kawakami said. “We’re all going to have to learn how to do our part to coexist.”
Relying on individual responsibility and action and not tighter government mandates was emphasized.
“If we all work together today, and we’re wearing masks, get our vaccinations, stay safe at home, keep our bubbles tight, we can stop the transmission of the disease,” Dr. Jill Hoggard Green of the Queen’s Health Systems said. “If we do not, at some point, I think it’s within the next month, we will hit a point that we’re unable to meet the patients’ needs.”