HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige signed an executive order on Tuesday limiting social gatherings to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors, effective immediately, as state and county leaders look to slow down the surge of coronavirus cases. Ige said cases have doubled every seven to ten days.
High-risk businesses, including restaurants, bars and gyms, must be capped at 50% capacity. Schools will not be impacted.
On Tuesday, the Hawaii State Department of Health reported 436 new COVID-19 cases: 292 are on Oahu, 76 on the Big Island, 15 on Kauai, 33 on Maui, three on Molokai and 17 diagnosed out of state. That brings the state total to 46,376. Click here to see the full breakdown.
“We anticipate that it would be four to six weeks to see significant reduction in the case counts we are seeing,” Ige said during the news conference.
After meeting with Ige last week, the mayors say it’s clear that more has to be done to slow the spread of coronavirus. However, they don’t want restrictions to have as much impact on local businesses. The plan is to be more strategic, with less disruption to businesses.
The Hawaii Restaurant Association Chairman Greg Maples said restaurants have been the default businesses to impose new COVID restrictions. Although he said limiting restaurants to 50% capacity once again will not be too much of an impact for majority of businesses.
“We had a little bit of an indication that this was going to happen, remembering that most restaurants are at 50% capacity because of the six feet between the tables,” Maples said. “So we’re going to see some restaurants that are going to make some adjustments, but overall it’s not going to be as impactful as some other dire restrictions.”
Most of the COVID-19 infections have been community spread from social gatherings. Outdoor gatherings have now been restricted from 75 to 25 people, and indoor gatherings have been knocked down from 25 to 10 people. For professionally structured events larger than 50 people, such as weddings or concerts, organizers may seek consultation from their county leaders.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi sent a statement this week saying, “I would prefer to not impose further restrictions, but we need to get a buy-in from the vaccine holdouts.”
Blangiardi had resisted to impose further restrictions on businesses, but said these measures are now necessary.
“With this emergency proclamation that’s being issued today, that they understand we’re not where we were just a couple of weeks ago but in a different place,” Blangiardi said. “It’s very aggressive, and everybody needs to wake-up pay, attention and do the responsible thing.”
Oahu organizers may submit their COVID mitigation plans here.
State officials have previously talked about making changes to the Safe Travels Program. Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara told the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 last week that there are discussions on reversing the vaccine exception and only allowing the 72-hour pre-test for travelers to avoid quarantine rules. Those plans are still on hold. Click here to read more.
Officials continue to stress the importance of testing for those who believe they may have been infected. The health department says there are many sites offering free tests. Click here, then go to the Health Information, then to Testing Isolation and Quarantine. When you put your zip code in, a list of pharmacies will pop up that offer free COVID-19 testing. KHON2 has also compiled a list here.