LIHU‘E — The County of Kaua‘i will be moving away from its six-tiered system, Mayor Derek Kawakami announced Thursday, but will continue to enforce strict COVID-19 safety measures.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have adjusted to the changing realities of COVID-19, and we continually work to keep our community safe while doing everything we can to keep our businesses and activities open,” Kawakami said during the county’s COVID-19 briefing Thursday.
A proposed change will need approval by Gov. David Ige. County officials did not clarify if a request had already been sent to Ige.
“We will continue to provide updates to the public as policy decisions are made,” Kawakami said. “Please stay tuned.”
The current tier system anticipated dropping all COVID-19 safety-mitigation measures, including limited capacity at restaurants and bars and restricted size limits on social gatherings indoors and outdoors, when the state reaches a 70% fully vaccinated population.
According to the state Department of Health, about 67% of the state’s total population is vaccinated. On Kaua‘i, that number is about 65% fully vaccinated, and 70% initiating inoculation.
Kawakami pointed to high community spread of the virus within the county linked to the delta variant.
As of Thursday, the county has recorded 777 new cases of COVID-19, the majority, 716, attributed to community spread.
“As we have seen the effects of the delta variant, and as we approach that 70% benchmark, we know that continued safety measures will be necessary to contain the spread of disease on our island,” Kawakami said.
The mayor said the county is in support of statewide orders requiring indoor masking. “Wearing our masks, keeping our distance and restricting our gathering sizes have worked in containing the spread of disease,” he said.
Kawakami said the county will “remain committed” to keeping recreational activities, local businesses and schools open with safety measures, “so long our hospitals have capacity to continue serving our community.”
Continued restrictions on social gatherings and professional events, like weddings and concerts, will likely still be in place. Earlier this month, the county instituted a new citation system to enforce emergency rules, like indoor mask-wearing and gathering sizes. For individuals, the fine is $250, and $500 for business owners or event organizers.
Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.