Delta variant ends 70% vaccination goal for removing COVID restrictions

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Many were looking forward to the state reaching the 70% vaccination rate in order to drop COVID restrictions, but the Delta variant turned those plans upside down.

At least for now, there is no end to restrictions.

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Reopening tiers are a plan of the past.

Oahu moved away from those metrics to adopt a more flexible system to meet the mitigation needs for COVID. Now Kauai is separating from the tiers as well.

“The elimination of the tier system, all that it signals is that we acknowledge that the delta variant is still a high level of concern for us,” Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said. “We’re taking a look at the different metrics. We are more so concerned about our healthcare capacity, not only here on Kauai but statewide as well.”

The old plan was to drop restrictions when Kauai reached a 70% vaccination rate.

Governor David Ige also had said a 70% statewide vaccination rate had to be met in order to fully reopen travel. His office now said the benchmark must be higher, and there is no set threshold at this time.

Kauai is defaulting to state rules, 50% capacity at restaurants, bars and gyms. Social distancing and masking indoors remains in effect. But Kawakami diverted when it comes to structured events like weddings.

Kawakami said, “We set a capacity limit of 40 indoors and 100 outdoors for our professionally organized events, which means there is a point of contact.”

Indoor events larger than 40 people and outdoor events larger than 100 people will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test on Kauai.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth said they will be revisiting restrictions and anticipate a public announcement sometime next week.

Maui is also looking at the current level of cases to decide what is next.

“The numbers as we have seen have been dipping a little lower, what mayor says he will be looking at restrictions,” Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz said. “I can’t detail what these restrictions might be at this point, but we hope that we can loosen up.”

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Oahu remains under the program Safe Access Oahu, that required proof of vaccination at restaurants, gyms and theaters through Oct. 19.

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