HONOLULU (KHON2) — It is a critical time for Oahu and Kauai as changes in COVID-19 restrictions are in the works.
The two counties seem to be going in opposite directions.
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Oahu remains under Tier 3 with indoor gatherings limited to 10 people. Despite the increase in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, Mayor Rick Blangiardi initiated a four-week pause which is scheduled to end on Wednesday, May 5.
Business groups like the Hawaii Restaurant Association say Oahu should move into even fewer restrictions by allowing three-foot distancing between tables instead of six and not requiring masks when guests are sitting outside.
“If nothing else, let’s have three-foot social distancing at tables on the outside. Let’s start with outside seating and be able to have three-foot and let’s work our way into it,” said Greg Maples, chairman of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.
He adds that the state should focus less on the daily infection numbers with so many Hawaii residents getting vaccinated and more on hospitalizations; how many are in intensive care and on ventilators.
“We’ve done a lot of changing over the last year but the one thing that hasn’t changed is how we look at the COVID numbers, and it’s time that we change that,” said Maples.
Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami sees it differently. He plans to move the County from Tier 4 to a more restrictive Tier 3 with recent clusters that have brought infection numbers up.
“Limiting the size of indoor social gatherings. But we’re leaving the outdoor social gatherings as is because if people are going to get together, it’s safer if they’re outdoors, especially if they’re wearing a mask,” said Kawakami.
He wants indoor gatherings limited to five people instead of 10 and outdoor gatherings to stay capped at 25. Kawakami adds that he wants to make some changes to the tier system to help prevent confusion.
“This time around, we’re offering more guidance than hard-nosed mandates on a lot of items. So you’re going to see a lot of strong recommendations and guidelines for people to follow,” he said.
Any change in restrictions will have to be approved by the governor.